Published: Nov 4, 1:50p ET
Updated: Nov 4, 2:00p ET

Top two seeds roll into semis at FIVB Phuket Open

Xue/Zhang, Kessy/Ross stay unbeaten; Fendrick/Hanson get three wins to stay alive
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It took six sets, but with two more wins Friday at the FIVB Phuket Open in Thailand, Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross remained unbeaten this week and moved into the semifinals.

Their day began with a beat down in Round 3, as they were on the wrong side of a 21-11 game against No. 7 Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic. But the second-seeded duo bounced back to hand the Czechs a defeat in the second set by the same score, then took the decider, 15-9.

Kessy and Ross won the first game of their fourth round matchup with 19th-seeded Australians Louise Bawden and Becchara Palmer, but the Aussies took game two before the Americans again prevailed in the decider (21-19, 18-21, 15-11).

The victories put Kessy and Ross into an FIVB World Tour semifinal for the first time since the end of July, when they took silver at the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam in Poland. Overall, it's their seventh final four in 14 events this summer. Also into Phuket's semis with four wins are top-seeded Chinese pair Xue Chen and Zhang Xi, who have yet to drop even a game in Thailand.

Their foes in the semis will be determined Saturday as six other teams remain in the hunt. Among them are 11th-seeded Americans Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Hanson, who won three matches in the contender's bracket after going 1-1 on Thursday.

The U.S. pair began with a three-set win over No. 21 Zara Dampney and Shauna Mullin of Great Britain (22-20, 20-22, 15-11), then eliminated the No. 3 seed, Brazilian sisters Carolina and Maria Salgado (21-18, 15-21, 20-18). The Americans closed the day with a straight sets win over eighth-seeded Australians Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley (21-13, 21-17).

Fendrick and Hanson will take on 18th-seeded Canadians Heather Bansley and Elizabeth Maloney on Saturday morning, with the winner advancing to take on Bawden and Palmer for a berth in the semifinals. That winner would face Xue and Zhang.

Fendrick and Hanson are looking for their third FIVB semifinal appearance of the season after taking fourth at the first two stops of the summer.

Kessy and Ross' final four foes will come from fifth-seeded Italians Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti taking on sixth-seeded Brazilians Vivian Cunha and Taiana Lima, with the winner of that match facing No. 12 Katrien Gielen and Liesbeth Mouha of Belgium for a spot in the semis. Kessy and Ross are looking for their third career title in Phuket, after winning gold in 2008 and 2009.

Phuket is a women's-only event and will feature the semifinals on Saturday, followed by the medal matches on Sunday.

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