‘Golden Match’ to decide winner of semi-final bout between Russia and Austria
2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup - Final
Stavanger, Norway, June 25, 2016. Russia have travelled to Stavanger with two teams that though extremely diverse in terms of their age and experience, they are just equally as strong. The four players from the world’s largest country competing in Norway this week are chasing a second spot for Russia in the men’s competition of the Rio 2016 Olympics after 2016 European silver medallists Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov qualified to the Copacabana quadrennial via the FIVB World Tour. Though rising stars Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin comfortably claimed their match with Thomas Kunert/Christoph Dressler, the more experienced Dmitry Barsouk and Nikita Liamin missed out on a number of opportunities in the first set of their clash with Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl who eventually pulled out a 2-0 victory to shape up a ‘Golden Match’ to determine the eventual finalist.
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As the sky cleared after Friday’s storm, the next-to-last competition day at Norway’s Beach Volleyball capital started with a compelling 21-16, 21-13 victory claimed by Russia’s rising stars Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin in their matchup with Austria’s no. 2 team Thomas Kunert and Christoph Dressler.
The gold medal winners from the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing – as well as of the 2013 U18 European Championship – keep on developing at a very fast pace under the guidance and mentorship provided by their coach, former Beach Volleyball star and 2008 Olympian Rivo Vesik. After setting the tempo from start to end in the first set, Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin did the same also in the second frame of the match – with Stoyanovskiy’s two consecutive aces securing an early 7-4 lead. Even though Kunert and Dressler closed in within two points at 10-8, after that the Austrians could only score five more points, with the Russian tandem cruising to a speedy 21-13 to claim the first victory for their country in the semi-final tie with Austria.
Next up were Russia’s most decorated Beach Volleyball player in history – Dmitry Barsouk – and partner Nikita Liamin playing Austria’s no. 1 Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl. 2007 world silver medallist and 2008 European bronze medallist Barsouk already played at the Olympics once – in 2008 – when he finished ninth together with former partner Igor Kolodinsky. As for Liamin, the 30-year-old only started playing Beach Volleyball in 2014 with Barsouk standing by his side ever since after a shortly-lived partnership with Ruslan Bykanov.
The experienced Huber/Seidl were nevertheless supposed to be a hard nut to crack for Barsouk/Liamin having swept three consecutive matches since their arrival in Norway, dropping only one set along the way. Barsouk/Liamin seemed to have cashed the opening set when leading 20-18, but they missed out on their chances – and the fight continued for quite some time until Huber/Seidl came out on top at 34-32 to win the longest set of the tournament so far. This dealt a big blow to the Russians they did not quite recover from with Huber/Seidl claiming the second set 21-18 to stretch the tie to a ‘Golden Match’ that will be contested later on Saturday in order to determine the first finalist.