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17/06/2017 12:15
Medal-hungry Romanians make small steps on way to big dreams
2017 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship

Baden, Austria, June 17, 2017.  They have never won a medal from a CEV or FIVB Beach Volleyball competition, but it would be the next logical step for Romania’s Adriana-Maria Matei and Beata Vaida on the way to achieving the big dreams they are chasing. The 19-year-old talents from Satu Mare are one of the only two teams that are not seeded among the top eight at the 2017 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship who have won all their matches in the pool phase and made it directly to the second elimination round.

“We are so happy now after the three victories. We are waiting for our next opponents with the chance to get some rest skipping one elimination round,” Adriana Matei says. “It would be awesome if we win some medals, because we do not have any medals from CEV Beach Volleyball competitions yet.”

Matei and Vaida started their international career on the sand at a BVA Balkan Championship event in Plovdiv, Bulgaria only two years ago, in June 2015. Less than a year later they already made headlines by reaching a prestigious fifth-place finish at the FIVB U21 World Championship in Lucerne, Switzerland. They have been quite successful at various zonal BVA competitions, but are still chasing their first medal on the continental level.

Earlier this year they won European gold two times indeed, but on snow, not on sand, as both their participations in CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour events, both in Turkey, led them to the top of the podium.

“We are very hungry for medals,” Beata Vaida adds. “Snow Volleyball for us was just for fun, but if it becomes Olympic, we would sure like to be there. But now we have our sponsors for Beach Volleyball and this is what we want to do. Our sponsors Schlemmer and Gamma & Gamma from our city Satu Mare are helping us chase our dream. Our federation is supporting us as well. Of course, we hope to go to Tokyo for Beach Volleyball, but it is going to be hard. Now that we know how difficult it is to get into the main draw on a World Tour event, we realise how difficult it will be to qualify for the Olympics. But who knows...”

“Yes, we did win two gold medals in Snow Volleyball, but we want to win on the sand. It is more challenging because more teams are participating,” Matei continues. “The Snow Volleyball experience did help us prepare for the season on the beach, because it was at high altitude, which was good for our physical condition.”

At the U21 World Championship in 2016, the Romanian duo started from the qualification rounds and gradually made their way to the quarterfinals, where they lost to Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova. The same Russian team is competing in Baden this week, so Matei and Vaida might get an opportunity for payback.

“We kept winning until we were eliminated by the Russian team, which then ended up with the silver,” Vaida revisits her experience in Lucerne. “Maybe we will meet them again here and take our revenge. But we just want to play our game and play it well, regardless of who the opponents are.”
 
One of the main reasons these young Romanian athletes have been gaining confidence and making their small steps up the road to success is their coach Adrian Pricop. They know that and appreciate that.

“Without our coach we cannot play Beach Volleyball,” they both speak simultaneously and with excitement as soon as coach Pricop’s name is mentioned. “He is our driver, our cook, our manager, our doctor, our everything... He is the best – our ‘dad’!”

Matei and Vaida were up for a pleasant surprise in Baden. In addition to the support from their coach, they got some unexpected support from the stands, as some Romanian fans showed up at centre court to cheer them on. “We want to thank our many Romanian supporters who surprised us at centre court during the match against the Austrian team. It was amazing for us!” Beata Vaida says, and adds: “Of course, I also want to thank our sponsors, our federation, our coach, my partner...”



In 2017, coach Pricop has already taken his team to three FIVB World Tour events so far, an important step in their further development as international-level beach volleyballers. They tried their luck in Langkawi, Xiamen and Moscow. In the Russian capital they managed to register their first victory on the World Tour.

“Malaysia was very nice - a little too hot for us, but we liked it. This was the most exotic place we have visited so far with Beach Volleyball,” Vaida says with excitement.

Maybe international Beach Volleyball will take these aspiring Romanians to a number of exotic places all over the world, but they are dreaming for the Mecca of the sport. “We want to go to Brazil, because they have the best Beach Volleyball players,” Vaida continues. “We want to go there, practice with them and ‘steal’ some of their Beach Volleyball. They are very nice people, they are Latin like us, Romanians, so I hope they like us as much as we like them.”

While winning their first European medal here, in Baden, is next on their agenda, Matei and Vaida are looking further ahead to playing more and more international tournaments en route to accomplishing their big dreams.

“Next for us is the U21 World Championship in Nanjing, China. We will also play at some CEV Satellites. We try to go everywhere, because we need points. We wanted to stay in Baden to play at the Masters next week, but we are on the reserve list for that,” Beata Vaida explains.

“We need to gain more experience, since this is only our second year in international competition. We are open for everything and we want to learn from everywhere and from everybody,” Adriana Matei concludes.

All centre court matches are scheduled for live streaming on LAOLA1.tv.

Engage with the U22 European Championship on social media by using the competition’s official hashtag #EuroBeachVolleyU22.

Click here for more information, including schedule, results, photos and more.

More photos are available here.


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