Lithuanian girls lead European clean sweep at Beach Youth Worlds
News from the FIVB
Larnaca, Cyprus, July 14, 2012. Shining as bright as the stars above in the crystal-clear Cyprus sky and the lights illuminating the Larnaca center court Saturday, Lithuania’s Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte held off another comeback effort by defending champions Karolina Baran/Katarzyna Kociolek of Poland to earn the women’s gold medal at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Youth World Championships, the 11th annual event for players under 19.
The four day, double gender event was held for the first time in Cyprus as the world’s best young women’s teams competed since Wednesday under cloudless skies, searing sunshine, intense humidity and the near-motionless gentleness of the Mediterranean Sea.
In the women’s intense gold medal match Saturday against two teams that know each other well, Lithuania’s 18th-seeded Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte reversed a close pool play loss from earlier this week to a two-set gold medal victory over Poland’s second-seeded defending FIVB SWATCH Youth World Champions Baran/Kociolek, 21-18, 22-20.
Lithuania’s Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte ended their gold medal march with a 7-1 win/loss record in Larnaca while Poland’s silver medalists Baran/Kociolek end their Cyprus journey with a 6-1 final record with their only loss coming in the final match of the tournament.
Saturday’s women’s medal matches were played under the lights on another in the string of stirring summer nights in front of another appreciative and welcoming packed center court.
Following the gold medal finale, Poland now has earned four women’s medals and seven final four finishes which trails only Germany’s 10 final fours in the event’s history. Lithuania earned its first women’s medal and gold medal and final four-finish in the history of the growing event.
In another tight battle for the bronze medal, Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha/Anna Gorbunova came back after losing the first set to defeat Germany’s seventh-seeded Sandra Ittlinger/Yanina Weiland, 19-21, 21-17 and 15-9 in a 53 minute bronze medal match.
In a pool play match on Thursday, Baran/Kociolek had defeated Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte in two overtime sets, 22-20, 22-20 but in Saturday’s gold medal finale, the Lithuanians played much more relaxed and with more composure to unseat the reigning champions from Poland. In the first set of the gold medal match, Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte stayed just enough ahead to pull away at the end for a 21-18 margin. In what would be the deciding second set, Baran/Kociolek jumped out to a quick 5-1 but Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte called a time-out, regrouped, relaxed and edged their way back into the set, eventually knotting up the score at 12-12 during a run of outscoring their opponents 5-1 to take a 14-12 lead. After Poland tied the score again at 15-15, Lithuania pulled steadily away to match point at 20-18 but the defending champions didn’t quit and tied the score at 20-20 before Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte scored the final two points of the set and match, first on a cross-court kill by Povilaityte and then an ace serve down the middle also by Povilaityte. Following their gold medal victory, an emotionally joyous Dumbauskaite commented: “We weren’t as nervous this time as we were when we played them during pool play. The difference between our loss in pool play and our victory in the gold medal match was our reception was much better and overall we did everything better. In the second set they jumped on us but we calmed things down by calling a time-out. It is an honor to be the first women’s team to win a gold medal for Lithuania in the FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships”.
Changing tactics after losing a close first set to Germany in the bronze medal battle, Russia’s Dabizha/Gorbunova, who had lost a three-set match in the semifinals as well, stayed on top throughout the second set and broke open the tiebreaker set with timely blocks and accurate kills to win the match and the bronze medal. Russia’s Dabizha, 18 and Gorbunova, 16, finished with a 6-1 record in Larnaca while Germany’s Ittlinger/Weiland, both 18, ended the tournament with a 5-3 match record. As countries, Russia now has three bronze medals in the history of this event, five medals total and five final-four finishes. Germany, on the other hand, didn’t add to their medal-leading total of nine but with their first fourth place finish have a women’s high of 10 final fours.
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