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BEACH VOLLEYBALL : Kirby, Masakayan Cruise, Then Struggle to Advance

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Top-ranked Karolyn Kirby and Liz Masakayan breezed through their first match on Saturday in the $40,000 World Championships at Manhattan Beach, but the defending champions struggled in their second match before finally winning.

Kirby and Masakayan scored a 15-3 quarterfinal victory over eighth-seeded Jackie Campbell and Charlotte Roach in the morning. But a couple of hours later, Kirby-Masakayan, the winningest team in women’s pro beach volleyball, committed a series of unforced errors that almost caused them to lose the semifinal against fourth-seeded Gayle Stammer and Monique Oliver.

Kirby and Masakayan trailed, 11-8, before scoring seven consecutive points--three of them aces by Masakayan--for a 15-11 victory.

“They definitely had some unforced errors that they normally don’t have,” Stammer said. “But then they had some great defensive plays that took points off our serve.”

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Masakayan, who was hospitalized last week because of a pelvic infection, says her team’s slow start was not related to her sitting out three days of practice last week.

“I feel great,” she said. “I just think we were a little too hyper. We weren’t focused and our ball control was not as sharp. . . . Then we said enough is enough!”

In the other winners’ bracket semifinal, second-seeded Lori Kotas and Barbra Fontana defeated third-seeded Dennie Knoop and Deb Richardson, 15-12, after trailing, 9-4.


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