ST. PETERSBURG — After knocking off top seeds Jennifer Kessy and April Ross on the first day of the AVP St. Petersburg Open at Vinoy Park, the pro beach volleyball team of Raquel Ferreira and Kristen Batt knew all eyes would be on their court for their winners bracket quarterfinal against fourth-seeded Brittany Hochevar and Lauren Fendrick.
A loud, local contingent surrounded Court 1 on Saturday to see if Ferreira, a St. Petersburg resident, and Batt, from Sarasota, could continue their run to today's semifinal.
After falling behind early in Game 1, Hochevar and Fendrick used well-placed serves to take control of the match, winning 21-17, 21-14. "We had to silence the crowd," Hochevar said. "We won the first, and it was crickets."
Batt and Ferreira led 12-7 when Hochevar and Fendrick combined for four aces over the next nine points.
"You couldn't really feel the wind, but it was making the ball do some funny stuff," Hochevar said. "I went away from my jump serve a little bit because the floaty was kind of nasty."
Hochevar and Fendrick advanced to their fourth tour semifinal this year.
"I think we were trying to do too much on the court," Ferreira said. "Sometimes in this game, you have to be more patient. You don't have to do magic to beat teams, you just have to be consistent."
With just one loss, Ferreira and Batt can still win the double-elimination tournament. They face second-seeded Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, and Whitney Pavlik, who won twice Saturday, with the victor moving on to the semifinals.
Summer Ross and Emily Day were the other unbeaten women's team left after defeating Kim DiCello and Kathryn Piening 21-16, 21-12 to reach the semis.
Kessy and Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalists, were also still alive, winning twice. They play DiCello and Piening this morning with a spot in the semis on the line.
The top men's teams remained undefeated. Top seed Phil Dalhausser, a 2008 Olympic gold medalist, and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal handled Tri Bourne and John Hyden 21-14, 21-17 to make the semis.
"The first set, I played well and scored a lot of points," Dalhausser said. "The second, Sean got a lot of balls and scored a bunch. It's a great sign when one guy isn't scoring points, the other guy picks it up."
Second-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson edged third seed Theodore Brunner and Nick Lucena 21-16, 21-18 to advance. Brunner and Lucena can still make the final through the contenders bracket.
The team of Todd Rogers, Dalhausser's gold medal partner in 2008, and 7-footer Ryan Doherty was the only surprising casualty. A day after losing in the first round, the No. 4 seeds were upended by Brad Keenan and John Mayer 15-21, 21-18, 15-9.