2017-08-03 14:24:00 CEST
They did it the hard way, but is this a performance of champions?
They came within one point of exiting the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1, but not even for a second did April Ross and Lauren Fendrick think their campaign was over.
The American pair trailed Barbara Hermannová and Marketa Sluková 21-19, 20-19 with match point on the line, but what was to follow was one of the best comebacks of their career.
Snatching the second thanks to three brilliant diagonals from Fendrick, the decider was to go even better with a dominating 15-9 display – ending in fine style with the same player registering two brilliant blocks on Red Bull Beach Arena.
But when it came down to the secret of their success over the Czechs, it all boiled down to one thing: belief.
“It is certainly up there with the best comebacks,” said 2009 champion Ross. “We’ve had two of these in the past two games, so it would be nice to start better, but we’re so stoked at how we played and stretched them in that third set.
“Every athlete will tell you you’re never out of the game until it’s over, but it takes a lot to actually believe that, it needs a lot of experience and it’s only over the past couple of years that I’ve picked up that mentality.
“You have to have the emotion and the motivation to go with it, you need to act like you are still going to win and it’s something you have to earn and learn as you go along. In that second set I knew we were always in it.
“I can’t control what Lauren thinks, but I know she can feel my energy – if I have positive energy then I know she feels that, that’s how I want to be as a team and individual.”
That was by far the closest the Americans have come to defeat so far, looking close to impenetrable after registering four straight victories with just two sets dropped in that time.
Hoping to stop them in their tracks in the quarterfinals is Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson, who themselves came through a three-set marathon, though Fendrick is keeping her attentions close to home.
“I’m really proud with how we stuck to our gameplan,” said the four-time quarter-finalist.
“It’s tough dealing with the heat, but we’ve got great trainers who are helping us with body management, Team USA are really looking after us brilliantly.
“We’re getting better every match we play, and the wins we’re getting about good teams is raising our confidence more and more.”
Are the Americans in for any more thrillers? You can follow their progress live and free on BeachStream. Click here to sign-up!
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