Greek girls down second-seeded pair of the tournament
2013 CEV A1 Beach Volleyball European Championship Final presented by checkrobin.com
Klagenfurt, Austria, August 2, 2013. They may have been playing together for only four months, but it looks like Vasiliki Arvaniti and Panagiota Karagkouni have already found a good chemistry and understanding. On Friday morning they opened the program of the 1/8 finals by edging the second-seeded pair of the European Championship, Sophie van Gestel and Madelein Meppelink of the Netherlands 21-17, 12-21, and 15-11.
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“I absolutely have no words to express the way I feel” said Arvaniti after the game. “I knew we did stand a chance as the last three weeks things have gone extremely well for us. However, I did not expect that we could beat the Dutch girls for they have had a great season so far and they were among the top contenders for gold here in Klagenfurt”. Arvaniti and Karagkouni will play Germany’s top-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler for a spot in the semis after the 2010 European silver medallists cruised past Barbora Hermannova and Martina Bonnerova of the Czech Republic in the 1/8 finals (21-17, 21-15). “We just want to take it game by game and enjoy the moment” added Arvaniti. 20-year old Karagkouni was also overwhelmed with joy: “I just can’t believe we have beaten the Dutch girls and are in the 1/4 finals”.
The Netherlands had qualified four pairs for the 1/8 finals but going into the next round their contingent was reduced to just one team for Jolien Sinnema and Michelle Stiekema lost to Germany’s Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst 15-21, 17-21 on centre court. However, the second sensation of the day was contributed by Jantine van der Vlist and Marloes Wesselink who edged last year’s European champions Marleen van Iersel and Sanne Keizer in three sets (21-17, 15-21, 15-12). “We know we’re the only Dutch team still in the race but we are evidently happy with the result of this game. Anytime you play your countrywomen there is some more tension in the air for everyone wants to show who the best is in the group. This was the first time I played Sanne and Marleen together with Jantine for this is our first season together” said Wesselink. “Two years ago I played with Meppelink, last year with Sinnema. Together with our coaches we have decided to mix up a bit the pairs and it has worked very well so far. We made the semis of the FIVB Grand Slam in The Hague and we just advanced to the 1/4 finals of the European Championship, so this is quite amazing. We started out strong, while the second set was not so good. We still have ups and downs but overall I am happy with the way we are playing. Of course a semi-final at the European Championship would be great but we know the German girls (Ludwig/Walkenhorst) are strong, so let’s wait and see”.
As they won bronze last year in The Hague, Liliana Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo claimed Spain’s first medal at the European Championship. This time they look ready for more after they routed Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova (CZE) in straight sets (21-15, 21-15) to advance to the 1/4 finals. “This time we want gold” says Liliana quite straightforward. “We had a good game today and we knew we had to play good for this was probably the toughest opponent we could get at this stage of the competition. Everything is going well and we want to improve on last year’s bronze medal” she added at the end of a match where they were loudly cheered by their compatriots playing in the men’s tournament as well as by a small crew of Spanish fans. In the next round the Spaniards will take on Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Depré who ended the fairy tale of Karin Ljungqvist and Nina Grawender (29-27, 22-20). The Swedes had found their way to Klagenfurt only on Monday night following the withdrawal of Italy’s Gioria/Giombini and caused a sensation by sweeping all of their matches in pool play. After a very close game, the Swiss eventually had the upper hand thereby getting the right to challenge Liliana and Baquerizo for a spot in the semis.
Austria’s hopes in the tournament are still alive for Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger – energized by a sold-out centre court – beat Germany’s Karla Borger and Elena Kiesling 21-16, 21-18 to make it to the 1/4 finals. Their next opponents are the winners of last year’s FIVB Grand Slam here in Klagenfurt, Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova who had again their ups and downs before slipping past Poland’s Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska 21-17, 19-21, and 15-10. The winners of the FIVB Open in Anapa and of the Summer Universiade in Kazan had to fight for 47 minutes and were helped by their rivals who – with the score standing at 7 all in the tie-break – made four consecutive mistakes to pave the way with gold for the girls coached by Italian-born Marco Solustri.
The 1/4 finals are scheduled for this afternoon at 4 and 5 pm and will determine the teams that on Saturday will fight for gold as well as for the fictional title of Europe’s “queens of the beach”.