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Cook & Hinchley couldn’t finish off AUT

31 July 2012

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley have suffered a huge blow to their Olympic campaign losing a tight three set match against their Austrian opposition, late on Day 3 at Horse Guards Parade in central London.

The pair looked like they had the match sealed with three match points in the second set before five straight points by the Schwaiger sisters won them the second set 20-22. And from there the Australians couldn’t put a stop to the charge. All the momentum was with the opposition and they were down 1-5 in the deciding set in a matter of minutes.

To their credit the Australians fought back to 6-all before another Austrian run of five points gave them the advantage they needed before sealing the match 15-10 in the third.

The Australians were visibly in shock that the match against the team who finished equal fifth with them at the Beijing Olympics had slipped away.

“It’s disappointing because for 99% of the match I felt like we had it and then it just happened so quick like dominoes and a snowball coming down the mountain,” Cook explained.

“Disappointment set in after the second set and we lost concentration.

“There was no point in my mind where I thought we would lose that second set and now the reality is the worst feeling it the world it’s gutting.”

An emotional Hinchley was disappointed for not winning for their family and friends who had travelled to London and supported them on their tough road to the Games.

“We worked so hard to get here and we had the game and did everything we needed to but they came back strong with their serve and we couldn’t finish them off,” Hinchley said.

The pressure showed early in the match with both teams taking a while to find their range in the first set. The tactical game went point for point with the Austrians always being just ahead. At 17-18 Cook produced four consecutive winners to claim the first set for Australia 21-18.

The second set went the same way with the Australians having the slight edge on the scoreboard early. Hinchley was trying to establish her dominance at the net but it was the Austrians coming up with more blocks and the Aussies relying on cross-court winners and clever shots from Cook to stay in touch.

Cook again produced the goods late in the second set to win three straight points and a 16-12 lead but the Austrians with their backs to the wall fought back to level at 17-17.

It looked like Australia would take the match in straight sets until four straight points to the Austrians clinched the second set 20-22.

The Schwaiger sisters jumped away to a 5-1 lead and the Australians campaign looked shaky before they again rallied and levelled at 6-all.

It was an important match for both teams after they lost their opening matches of the tournament.  Mathematically the Australians can still progress if they have a big win in their third match against their Czechoslovakian opponents either by finishing second in their pool on a points count-back or as a lucky third place getter.

“To go from thinking you were placed well to progress in the tournament to doing calculations and ‘what ifs’ is not a good feeling,” Cook said.

Andrew Reid
olympics.com.au

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