Prague, Czech Republic, May 23, 2014. Italy’s Daniela Gioria / Laura Giombini became pool winners on Friday for the first time in their careers. They will continue the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Prague Open in the second elimination round on Saturday.
Gioria / Giombini, playing together since 2013, booked their biggest success on Thursday by upsetting China’s world champion Chen Xue and her partner Xinyi Xia. “After that win I told Laura that now we would have to win the pool as well and we did,” said Gioria after their 2-0 (21-11, 21-16) victory over Norway’s Cindy Treland / Janne Pedersen. The Italians, the Chinese and the Finnish sisters Erika Nystrom / Emilia Nystrom all ended up with two wins in Pool E, but the rally points ratio turned the scale in favor of Gioria / Giombini.
The other European teams that advanced straight into the second elimination round as pool winners are the top-seeded Czech team Kristyna Kolocova / Marketa Slukova, Germany’s Laura Ludwig / Kira Walkenhorst, Karla Borger / Britta Buethe and Katrin Holtwick / Ilka Semmler, as well as Austria’s Doris Schwaiger / Stefanie Schwaiger.
Joining them directly into the second knockout round will be Canada’s Heather Bansley / Sarah Pavan and Brazil’s Maria Antonelli / Juliana Felisberta. All sixteen second- and third-placed teams from the pools, twelve of which are from Europe, move on to the first elimination round starting at 16:00 local time on Friday afternoon. The winners will join the pool winners in the second round on Saturday at the women’s only Prague Open.
The Czech pair topped its pool with three straight wins with all the support from the large home crowd at the center court. But the home team was not at all pleased with its performance in the last pool match against Varapatsorn Radarong / Tanarattha Udomchavee from Thailand. Even though a straight-set win might seem like an easy victory to the fans, according to 26-year old Kristyna Kolocova, it was their hardest game at the Prague Open so far and she had the set scores – 2:0 (24-22, 22-20), to prove it.
“Today we played the weakest game out of all three matches in our pool. The Thailand team was pushing us. Our defense was not good in the beginning, but then we adjusted. In the middle parts of both sets we were doing well and fortunately we gathered some energy to finish strong. We are really happy about the first spot in our pool - it is amazing. We can rest now and have some massage. Tomorrow we might be fresh, but we can get a tough opponent. So right now, we are in anticipation of what awaits us,” Kolocova said referring to the first elimination round match between Russia’s Ekaterina Syrtseva / Alexandra Shiryaeva and Sweden’s Nina Grawender 1 Karin Lundqvist which will determine the Czech pair’s next rival.
At least Kolocova / Slukova can count on the support of the Czech fans, who come to see their games in large numbers. “We are glad to have the home crowd backing us. We are really happy that they enjoy the games,” Slukova added.
Click here for more info on the FIVB Prague Open.