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16/06/2013 17:00
European pairs take three medals at The Hague Grand Slam
News from the FIVB

The Hague, Netherlands, June 16, 2013. Latvia’s Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs were happy to celebrate their second medal on this year’s FIVB World Tour as they followed up on the gold they had claimed some weeks in Corrientes, Argentina, with a silver medal at the Transavia The Hague Grand Slam in the Netherlands. In the final match Olympic bronze medalist Janis Smedins and partner Samoilovs were edged in straight sets by Brazil’s Pedro Salgado and Bruno Schmidt (19-21, and 12-21).  
The match was mostly decided at the net, where Samoilovs could not get past Pedro’s powerful block. Brazil scored three points in a row from 17-12 in the second set to reach their match point and again another great block by Pedro on Samoilovs decided the match. Smedins and Samoilovs teamed up this season and changed positions as well. Smedins, who won bronze at the Olympics in London last summer with Martins Plavins, changed to defense with Samoilovs taking the net. It worked in Corrientes, where they beat Pedro and Bruno in the semifinals to grab the gold in the final, but not in The Hague. “We studied them a lot after Corrientes”, Pedro said. “Two weeks ago they won, today was our day. We came here to fight, not to lose and we were ready to fight till the end.”

Fijalek/Prudel best Austrian qualifiers to claim men’s bronze  
Poland’s Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel defeated Austrian qualifiers Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl on Sunday in two sets (21-18, 21-16) to win the bronze medal at the Transavia The Hague Grand Slam. It is their first medal since Berlin last July, where they had claimed bronze as well. It is a promising return to form with the World Championship on home sand in just over two weeks. “This is a good motivation towards the World Championships”, Fijalek said after the match. But there is still a lot of room for improvement. “We are happy with this medal”, Fijalek said. “But we are not so happy with our game. We played terrible against Brazil yesterday. And today we did not play our best either. We made so many mistakes.”
Austria’s Huber and Seidl are up and coming this season, since they made some alterations in training and coaching. For the second time this year they reached the semi-finals all the way from qualification. In Fuzhou they even won bronze, but in The Hague they were no match for the seasoned Polish team, who finished fifth at the Olympics last year. Seidl was able to block Fijalek a few times but was no match for Prudel. The Polish, despite their own unhappiness with the way they were playing, were pretty much in control of the whole match. They started the year with three fifth places. Fijalek: “We are slowly getting there. We were in the quarterfinals in the last three events and we won the Super Cup in Germany last week.” They are looking forward to the World Championship in Stare Jablonki. Fijalek does not feel any pressure yet. “We will play a good game and focus on tactic. We have always had good results in Stare Jablonki, a silver medal and two quarterfinals. Volleyball is very important in Poland, so we will have a lot of support from the home crowd.”  

Bronze for Holtwick/Semmler  
Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler claimed the first medal for Germany in four World Tour events in the Netherlands. On Sunday the German team won the bronze medal match against Dutch Jantine van der Vlist and Marloes Wesselink at the Transavia The Hague Grand Slam. It was the first time the German teams could travel to The Hague. The three previous Open editions were staged in August, in the same week as the German championships. Holtwick and Semmler took the lead from the beginning and did not give the Dutch a chance. With 21-12 21-14 they claimed their second medal of the season after finishing third in Fuzhou and their seventh overall medal. “We served well from the beginning and that gave us a lot of confidence. We put on enough pressure for them to not be able to get back in the game”, Holtwick said. The German girls were a bit sad after losing the semifinal on Saturday to the Salgado sisters. Semmler: “But we really wanted to win today. You don’t want to be fourth. It’s the worst position you can get.”
For the Dutch team van der Vlist/Wesselink fourth place is still a big accomplishment. They both established a personal record on the World Tour. Finishing in the top four also means that they earned the A-status in the Netherlands, which means financial support from the national federation. In their first bronze medal match they lacked experience. “I think we are a bit more used to playing a medal match”, Holtwick said. “They had a good tournament but it is always difficult to come back after losing the semifinal”.
Gold went to Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Taiana Lima who edged their compatriots Maria Clara and Carol Salgado in straight sets in the final match (21-16, 21-13).  

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