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18/12/2017 09:46
Golden comeback for Semenov at EEVZA Beach Volleyball Tour Final
News from the Zonal Associations

Moscow, Russia, December 17, 2017. The 2017 EEVZA Beach Volleyball Tour Final finished on Sunday at the indoor beach sports centre “Leto” in Moscow with home stars Konstantin Semenov/Ilya Leshukov and Ekaterina Birlova/Elizaveta Novikova claiming the top honours.

The women’s gold medal match featured the two top-seeded teams of the tournament. After losing once in the previous rounds, Birlova/Novikova and reigning U18 / U20 European champions Mariia Bocharova/Maria Voronina still made it to the final stages of the competition. The representatives of Moscow and Obninsk did not experience any problems in the semi-finals. Birlova/Novikova beat Lithuania’s Urte Andriukaityte/Irina Zobnina and Bocharova/Voronina overcame compatriots Daria Rudykh/Ekaterina Syrtseva.

The fans were expecting a close fight for the gold medal but this eventually did not happen. Whether the young Bocharova/Voronina are still not ready to cope with their nerves at the senior level or they are not in their best shape, this is hard to tell. Birlova/Novikova immediately took the lead from the start of each set, after which the two Marias tried to catch up, but did not manage to do so – with the match ending in a 21-17, 21-15 victory for Birlova and Novikova.

“It is a great start to the season. Despite the fact that the calendar year ends, we have already started our beach season. There was a great atmosphere, good conditions, and many spectators. It is not yet clear with whom I will play international tournaments in the coming season, but thanks to Liza for this victory, and to the organisers for one more opportunity to play at home. We will continue to work hard,” said two-time Olympian Ekaterina Birlova after the victory.

The match for the bronze medal was much tougher. Zobnina and Andriukaityte lost the first set to Rudykh and Syrtseva, but snatched the victory at the end of the second one with 25-23, before taking the all-deciding tiebreak 15-11.

In the men’s semi-finals, the fans enjoyed one of the most interesting matches of the whole tournament. Russia’s Ruslan Dayanov/Taras Myskiv and Ukraine’s Konstyantyn Medyanik/Eduard Reznik delivered a real show. A series of crazy rallies and mistakes on both sides of the net resulted in a 29-27 first-set victory for the Ukrainian team. The Russians were able to extend the match to a tiebreak, where they were able to outplay their rivals (15-12). Medyanyk and Reznik had started the tournament from the qualification round, and therefore they obviously felt the fatigue towards the end of the match.

Dayanov and Myskiv played the main favourites of the tournament – Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov – for gold.  Ruslan and Taras failed to spoil the statistics of their compatriots, although the public passionately supported Dayanov and Myskiv. As for Semenov and his partner Leshukov, they did not lose a single set for the whole tournament, having won all of their five matches in straight sets. This happened despite the fact that Konstantin and Ilya played together for the first time in their careers. The comeback to the sand for the semi-finalist of the Rio 2016 Olympics, Konstantin Semenov, turned out to be a triumphal one.

“It worked out quite well. It was a great tournament. To me the most important thing now is to get back the international ranking points that I lost during the break I took from Beach Volleyball. Thanks to Ilya, we had to establish our chemistry as we played, but everything is good in the end,” said Semenov after the victory.

Medyanyk/Reznik regrouped to claim the bronze medal match edging Estonia’s Kusti Nõlvak/Mart Tiisaar. This time, the players from Ukraine managed to find the strength to fight in the third set and eventually crowned their campaign in Moscow with a medal.

EEVZA President and Executive Director of the Russian Volleyball Federation, Mr Vladimir Patkin awarded the medallists together with the President of the Lithuanian Volleyball Federation, Mr Darius Cerka.

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