China’s Chen Xue and Xinxin Wang booked their spot in the Round of 16 at the Tokyo 2020 women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament by finishing second in their pool, while Cuba’s Lidy Echeverria and Leila Martinez managed to stay alive after knocking Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth out of contention.

After USA’s April Ross and Alix Klineman mastered a 2-1 (20-22, 21-17, 15-5) comeback against Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink topping the pool undefeated and eliminating the winless Dutch pair from the competition on Friday morning, the afternoon’s fixture between Xue and Wang and Spain’s Liliana Fernаndez and Elsa Baquerizo turned to be a direct battle for the runner-up position in Pool B. The Chinese pair completely dominated on the sand to hammer out an emphatic 2-0 (21-13, 21-10) victory and advance to the knockout stage. Liliana and Elsa move on to the lucky-loser playoffs.

“We are so excited and a little surprised, because they are a great team,” Xue told Volleyball World. “We thought a lot about what we can do against a difficult team like that and I think we did well. My partner’s serving, blocking and attacking, as well as my defence, all came out well. I think it was the best match we’ve played so far. I hope we can continue through the end.”

Leila Martinez

Leila Martinez

In Pool E, ROC’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina defeated Australia’s Mariafe Artacho and Taliqua Clancy by 2-1 (21-8, 15-21, 15-12) in a direct battle for the first place, after both teams had already qualified for the elimination rounds.

In the last women’s match of the day, Lidy and Leila scored their first win of the tournament. The Cubans delivered a 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) shutout of Menegatti and Orsi Toth to advance to the lucky-loser matches on Saturday, which will determine the last eighthfinalists.

“We are very happy! We worked a lot to arrive here. Little by little, we get closer to our goal,” said Lidy and Leila. “We entered the game with a winning mentality and we put everything into the game to win it. We were a little tense, but we knew we could achieve the victory.”