European pairs shine at inaugural U23 World Championships
2013 FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships
Myslowice, Poland, June 9, 2013. European duos dominated the scene at the inaugural FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships as Poland’s Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor and Germany’s Victoria Bieneck/Isabell Schneider claimed gold in Myslowice, with Austria’s Lorenz Petutschnig and Tobias Winter adding the men’s bronze medal to Europe’s account at the end of the tournament.
Polish duo Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak made history as they beat Brazil’s Vitor Goncalves Felipe and Marcio Guadie Ley 2-0 (21-16, 21-7) in the final of the inaugural FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships on Sunday. The win means they can add the U23 world crown to the FIVB U21 and U19 gold medals they already had in their collections and the result confirms them as the pre-eminent age-grade players in the men’s game.
“Of course we are very happy,” Kantor said. “We want to thank our supporters because today we had a full house. We thought we would play the Russian and Austrian teams at some point in the tournament and luckily we beat them to reach the final. In the final we played a very hard opponent in Brazil, but we managed to win and I am very proud of that.” With both teams having played impressively on their way to the final, they matched each other in the early stages of the first set, but eventually Kantor and Losiak, roared on by a full centre court, pulled ahead to claim the first set. The second began in much the same manner and while the Polish duo pulled ahead midway through, the Brazilians rallied and became to force their way back into the match. Whereas in the semi and quarterfinals Kantor and Losiak had lost concentration in the second set, on this occasion they retained maximum focus and soon pulled ahead. Their lead proved too much for the Brazilians and the Poles won after Vitor Felipe was penalized for a double touch on their first match point. “We are very happy with our gold medals,” Losiak added. “We didn’t do it by ourselves, but were helped by our supporters who helped us to keep going. It was a real challenge playing at home and we are pleased we gave our fans something to cheer about.”
Austria’s Lorenz Petutschnig and Tobias Winter shrugged off their fatigue to win the men’s bronze medal with a 2-0 win over Latvia’s Rihards Finsters and Aleksandrs Solovejs. Petutschnig and Winter were comfortably in control in both matches, despite their grueling schedule of five matches in two days. Winter brought up match point with a spike and then won the match with a similar shot a moment later. “I was very happy that they didn’t serve to me because I got all the balls in the semifinal and it was very exhausting,” Petutschnig said. “They played good, but we were always leading, so it was a good game from us.”
Victoria Bieneck and Isabell Schneider had to fight back from losing the first set to become the inaugural FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball world champions. The Germans beat Brazilian pair Eduarda Santos Lisbao and Thais Rodrigues Ferreira 2-1 (19-21, 21-12, and 15-13) in the gold medal match. They pushed the South Americans hard throughout the first set, but Santos Lisboa and Rodrigues Ferreira held on.
“I think that wasn’t our best game, but it was a final and everybody wants to win,” Bieneck said. “It was a long tournament and we are feeling it in our legs, but of course we are happy that we won.” Bieneck and Schneider responded strongly and came out in determined mood at the start of the second set. They won the first point and used that momentum to keep them ahead for the rest of the set. By the time of the tie-break both teams were showing the effects of a long tournament and two matches in hot, still conditions on Sunday. The Germans were first to match point at 14-12 and while the Brazilians saved one, they were unable to stop Schneider from scoring the winning point with a fearsome smash.
“The first set we didn’t play as well as we could and I knew that if we improved we could win. We came back after we tried some new ideas. The tie-break then is just a fight” Schneider stressed.
In the bronze medal match the Canadian pair Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke endured another tie-break, but held on to win 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 16-14) against the Czechs Eliska Galova and Adela Machova. In the tie-break they appeared to be on their way to winning comfortably, but the Czechs called a time-out when they were down 11-7 and mounted a comeback. Humana-Paredes and Pischke rediscovered their rhythm though and after letting one match point slip, won the bronze medals on their second when Pischke hit a winning spike. It was a remarkable achievement considering that this is their first tournament of the year together as the pair are at university in different parts of Canada and can only train once the academic year is over. “It was a really, really good game and they played really, really well and we played really, really well and it came down to withstanding the pressure and the heat,” Humana-Paredes said. “The first didn’t go our way, but we came back strong.”
Thirty-two teams per gender took place in the main draw of the inaugural FIVB U23 Beach Volleyball World Championships. The main draw started on June 6 and the tournament ran through until Sunday, June 9 when both the men’s and women’s finals took place.
Myslowice, located 70km from Poland’s ancient capital Krakow, hosted an FIVB age-group tournament for the third time, after successfully hosting the U19 and U21 version in 2006 and 2007. It has also regularly hosted stops on the FIVB World Tour – the first tournament was a women-only event in 2008, as was the 2011 edition. In 2009, 2010 and 2012 it was the men who lit up the sand.
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