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Álvarez M/Moreno (ESP) vs. Xue/X. Y. Xia (CHN) - Quarterfinals #16049828

Moreno beats Xue's block during the quarterfinals in Portugal

Daniela Álvarez and Tania Moreno entered this week’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Espinho Elite16 in a strong position to qualify for the Paris Olympics and will end the tournament on Sunday much closer to it.

The young Spanish are set to make their first semifinal appearance in an Elite16 event and will fight teams from Switzerland, the United States and the Netherlands for the title at the Praia da Baía.

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Ranked 13th among the teams fighting for a spot at the Paris Games through the FIVB Olympic Rankings with 7,380 points, the 22-year-old Álvarez and Moreno have already secured the best result of their Olympic campaign this week in Portugal and are set to add at least 440 points to their total with their semifinal appearance in Espinho.

The Spanish, who started the tournament in the qualifier on Wednesday, kept winning for a fourth straight day on Saturday, when they secured their sixth triumph in the event, beating Chinese Olympians Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, they will meet Swiss Nina Brunner and Tanja Hüberli in a rematch of last year’s European Championship final. Brunner and Hüberli, who are the reigning European champions, won a pair of matches on Saturday, topping Brazilians Bárbara Seixas and Carol Salgado 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 15-12) in the Round of 12 and Germans Svenja Müller and Cinja Tillmann 2-0 (21-19, 22-20) in the quarterfinals.

Espinho Elite16 – Match Schedule and Results

The other semifinal in Espinho will feature Americans Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, who eliminated Brazilians Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patrícia Ramos with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) win in the quarterfinals, and Dutch Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam, who knocked Latvians Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova out with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) victory.

Immers and van de Velde continue to progress

On the men’s tournament, Matthew Immers and Steven van de Velde continued to improve their situation in the three-way Dutch race for two spots in Paris with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) victory over Polish Michal Bryl and Bartosz Łosiak in the quarterfinals.

van de Velde/Immers (NED) vs. Bryl/Łosiak (POL) - Quarterfinals #16055289

Immers and van de Velde celebrate another step forward at the Espinho Elite16

The two, who were already set to leave Espinho as the top-placed Dutch team in the FIVB Olympic Rankings, added another 140 points to their total (8,880) with their quarterfinals victory and could get more on Sunday, further increasing their advantage to compatriots Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (8,600) and Stefan Boermans/Yorick de Groot (8,460).

In the semifinals in Portugal, the Dutch will play Germans Nils Ehlers and Clemens Wickler, who defeated Americans Chase Budinger and Miles Evans 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) in the quarterfinals.

Fighting for the other spot in the gold medal match in Espinho will be Brazilians Andre Loyola and George Wanderley, who prevailed over Australia’s Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis 2-0 (21-15, 21-13), and Swedish David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig, who eliminated another Aussie duo, the one of Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert, winning 2-0 (21-17, 21-14).

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