Breaking news – Germany crash out after ‘Golden Match’ loss to Ukraine
2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup - Final
Stavanger, Norway, June 23, 2016. Germany are out of contention for a second quota spot to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games after their second best team on the FIVB ranking, Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik, suffered a shocking loss to Ukraine’s Mykola Babich and Iaroslav Gordieiev in a ‘Golden Match’ that capped off a long day of competition at Stavanger. These are the breaking news emerging from the opening day of men’s competition at the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final in Norway’s Beach Volleyball capital.
On Thursday Norway’s men washed away the disappointment resulting from the setback their countrywomen had suffered a day before. They did so in style as they claimed their Round of 16 matches with Finland without dropping a single set. After Russia had secured their spot in the quarter-finals earlier in the day, as many as five ‘Golden Matches’ were played to complete the draw for the quarter-finals set to follow on Friday – with Belgium, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria and Ukraine coming out victorious. Spain, on the other hand, emulated Russia and Norway as they also needed only two matches to sweep Estonia aside and keep their Olympic dream alive.
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Though the home crowd quite understandably focussed on the performance of the home teams, the breaking news from Stavanger came late at night as Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik – whose resume includes, inter alia, a silver medal from the 2011 European Championship and bronze from the 2013 World Championship – lost a ‘Golden Match’ to Ukraine’s sensation Mykola Babich and Iaroslav Gordieiev. Babich and Gordieiev had previously edged Germany’s no. 2 team Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif, a result which had already surprised almost everyone in attendance. However, the real sensation was yet to follow and eventually came shortly before 9pm as Babich and Gordieiev won the first set of their matchup with Erdmann/Maytsik 22-20 before their much more decorated opponents responded by taking the second 21-17. What happened in the tie-break is hard to explain – Erdmann and Matysik lost it at a canter (15-6) and with it their dream of participating in a second Olympiad was shattered.
On Friday Ukraine will play Russia for a spot in the semis – but Thursday, June 23 is a day that the Beach Volleyball family of the Eastern European country will never forget, as Babich and Gordieiev’s exploit came only a couple of hours after Ukraine women’s team had secured their progression to the semis in Stavanger.
All fine for Norway’s men, Latvia’s Olympic bronze medallist out of contention
Morten Kvamsdal and Christian Sandlie Sørum claimed Norway’s first victory of the week in Stavanger but they had to work hard for it when playing Finland’s rookies Santeri Siren and Miro Määttänen. After winning a close opening set (21-19), the ‘Vikings’ needed as many as eight match balls before they could finally seal their victory (28-26) in front a sell-out crowd. Shortly afterwards, Iver Andreas Horrem and Geir Eithun comfortably cruised to a 21-14, 21-15 victory over Pekka Piippo and Jyrki Nurminen to secure Norway’s spot in the quarter-finals.
The hosts will be playing in the next round the ‘Red Beach Dragons’ of Belgium after Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle won the ‘Golden Match’ with Greece’s top team Georgios Kotsilianos and Nikos Zoupanis 21-16, 15-21, 15-8 in 40 minutes.
Francisco Alfredo Marco/Christian Garcia and Cesar Menendez/Francisco Tomas joined forces for Spain and altogether they needed only 67 minutes to claim their respective matches with teams from Estonia, i.e. Kusti Nõlvak/Mart Tiisaar and Karl Jaani/Kristo Kollo. Spain will now play Switzerland after Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson claimed yet another dramatic match – their second of the day – with the same Czech opponent – David Schweiner/Ondrej Perusic (17-21, 26-24, 15-11). Earlier on Thursday, Gabathuler and Gerson had already edged the same team 21-17, 27-29, 17-15.
The only Olympic medallist competing this week in Stavanger – Latvia’s Martins Plavins – will not be able to repeat that same feat in Rio later this summer. Plavins and partner Haralds Regza lost a thrilling ‘Golden Match’ to Austria’s Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl who won 21-23, 28-26, 21-19 in 55 minutes after these teams had easily won their previous matches with the respective no. 2 tandems. This is quite a big blow for the Baltic country, especially after Plavins/Regza won gold at the Baku 2015 European Games and were thought to be a force to be reckoned with for the sole ticket at stake in Norway to make it straight to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
In the next round Austria will play Turkey, after Murat Giginoglu/Volkan Gögtepe won yet another ‘Golden Match’ – a lot more one-sided this time, as they pulled out a 21-17, 21-18 win in their clash with Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman of Israel.