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STRONG CRUNCH TIME WINS FOR AUSTRALIAN TEAMS IN RIO

Australia’s beach volleyball teams turned their form around on day two of the Rio Grand Slam at Copacabana Beach, but unfortunately only one of the teams has advanced to the next round.

World U23 champions, Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Nikki Laird, ranked 30th at this event, pulled off a convincing 21-18, 21-18 over American 19th seeds Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day to finish third in their pool and advance to the elimination round.

There was also a good result for the top ranked Australian team of Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, who like del Solar and Laird, had lost both their opening pool matches.

Sixth seeded Bawden and Clancy finished on top of their third three-set match of the tournament, beating hometown favourites Maria Antonelli and Liliane Maestrini 21-18, 14-21, 15-10.

But the win was not enough to lift the Australians from the bottom of their pool, with three of the four teams all finishing with just the one win.

Artacho del Solar and Laird will now take on Italian 13th seeds Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth on Saturday morning, Australian time.

The young Australians had to win their way through qualifying to make the main draw in Rio, with their form confirming their favouritism for this month’s Asian Championships at Manly Beach.