Article by Troy de Ruyter courtesy of the West Australian.
Beach volleyballers Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy have toughed it out for the right to claim gold.
After winning a tight first set 23-21, the Australians rallied from being four points down early in the second to defeat Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka 21-13.
De Solar and Clancy, Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic volleyballer, now have the chance to win the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in the sport since 2000.
The Aussies opened up a decisive lead in the first set before the Latvians fought back
De Solar and Clancy then had a nervy start to the second, struggling to come to terms with the unconventional play of Graudina and Kravcenoka.
But they steadied to take command and level at 10-all. With their confidence growing, De Solar and Clancy then ran away with the match.
Clancy told Channel 7 that they were looking forward to playing the USA pair of April Ross and Alix Klineman, who earlier defeated Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre 21-12 21-11, in the final tomorrow.
“Mariafe said we always knew we’d be in this position,” Clancy said. “It was just awesome for us to know we took another step forward for us today.
“We stayed really patient because there was a bit of a patch where I don’t think we were right where we wanted to be but we stayed really strong and took time out in the second set.
“So proud of Mariafe. We have one more step.”
An excited de Solar made it clear what she wanted to take home.
“Gold baby! We’re playoff – we’ve played some good games but we’re ready for it,” she yelled.