Aussies steeled for beach volleyball semi


Article by Rob Forsaith courtesy of the Canberra Times.

Australian beach volleyballers Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy know they have the capacity to “beat absolutely anybody in the world” ahead of Thursday’s semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy will step onto the sand on Friday for their final clash at Shiokaze Park, with the only question being whether it will be a gold medal or bronze medal match.

The duo, having upset Canada’s reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in their quarter-final, will start favourites in their semi against Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka.

Artacho del Solar and Clancy, hunting Australia’s first Olympic medal in the sport since Natalie Cook and Kerri Pottharst won gold at Sydney 2000, know that mantle counts for little.

“It’s going to be another battle,” Clancy said.

“Our game style that we have can beat absolutely anybody in the world.

“Even though we had a really great performance and we played the style of volleyball that we wanted to, last night against Canada, it’s important to know tomorrow’s a new day.

“We still have to bring that patience and that team mentality.”

The Australians lost a three-setter to Graudina and Kravcenoka last month in the Swiss town of Gstaad, which hosted the last world tour stop before the Games.

“The Latvian girls are playing really well, it’s going to be another really tough match,” Artacho del Solar said.

“We’re in a different mindset now than in Gstaad and in a different stage of preparation.

“We’ve gone through a lot in the month since.

“We’re in a really good place – mentally, physically, emotionally – and ready to take revenge.”

Graudina is part of the lowest-ranked combination still in the mix for a medal, while the Latvians are yet to win a world-tour title.

“We’re a great team. We will see what happens,” Graudina said.