‘Beach Red Dragons’ silence Norwegian crowd – Episode II
2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup - Final
Stavanger, Norway, June 24, 2016. Though ‘Fairytale’ – the song written and performed by Norwegian star Alexander Rybak that won the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest in Moscow – was played a number of times by the organisers of the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final in Stavanger, there was no fairy tale to tell to the home fans. After edging local stars Iver Andreas Horrem/Geir Eithun earlier in the afternoon, Belgium’s Tom van Walle and Dries Koekelkoren claimed also the ‘Golden Match’ with Morten Kvamsdal and Christian Sandlie Sørum (21-15, 21-17) that completed Friday’s programme for the men competing at Norway’s Beach Volleyball capital. On Saturday Belgium will play Spain in the semi-finals with Russia and Austria locking horns for the remaining spot in the ‘grand finale’ whose eventual winners will secure a quota place for their country to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
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Norway could not repeat on home sand what they did four years ago in Alanya – when they won the CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final and qualified one team to the London 2012 Olympics. Van Walle and Koekelkoren controlled the game from start to end in the opening set and they continued their show of strength also in the second even though Kvamsdal and Sørum were able to side-out with consistency in the early stages. After claiming a three-point lead at 10-7, van Walle and Koekelkoren widened it to four at 14-10, resisted to a comeback by the ‘Vikings’ (15-14) and finished it all off at 21-17 to secure their spot in the semis.
This means that for the first time since Beach Volleyball was added to the Olympic programme – in 1996 – Norway will not have any team competing at the quadrennial event which coincides with the pinnacle of any athlete’s career.
“This was the second ‘Golden Match’ we played in two days,” van Walle said, “so we kind of knew already how to deal with the situation. We sat down with our coaching staff and agreed upon the best tactics to use, we executed the game plan as good as we could and I believe we did a pretty good job,” he continued. “We played with a lot of power and energy, made very few mistakes in side-out and when things work this way, it’s hard to stop us. I really enjoyed playing two times here on the centre court, especially because the ambiance was even more special since we had to play the home teams. Now we just want to enjoy the moment, re-focus and get ready for tomorrow,” he concluded.
No men’s team from Switzerland will participate in the Olympics for the first time since Atlanta 1996. On Friday late afternoon Switzerland’s no. 1 team Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson lost the second ‘Golden Match’ they contested in Stavanger to Spain’s Francisco Alfredo Marco/Christian Garcia, so Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr and Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Vergé-Dépré will be the only Swiss Beach Volleyball players competing on Copacabana later this summer.
Gabathuler/Gerson had claimed two dramatic tie-break victories on Thursday in the Round of 16 tie with David Schweiner/Ondrej Perusic of the Czech Republic but this time around they failed to come from behind and edge past their Spanish opponents. Marco/Garcia won a close match 21-18, 18-21, 15-12, so Spain still stand a chance of qualifying one more team for Rio 2016 beside their superstars, 2013 European champions Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira.
“It was definitely a close and very competitive match; we know them [Gabathuler and Gerson] pretty well because we have played this Swiss team a number of times and we have even trained together a few times. I think we played well especially in the key moments of the match and this eventually resulted in our victory,” Christian Garcia said. “The CEV Continental Cup is something truly different from any other competition because of its unique format. The teams’ ranking does not really count as much as in other tournaments, and we have already seen a number of surprising results. With every match you start from scratch no matter who the opponent is and at the same time you have to rely on the results of your teammates. We are happy we could claim this tie with Switzerland which was a difficult one and we now look forward to the next round; we hope to continue in the same way also in the semis no matter if we play Norway or Belgium.”