30/08/2015 21:08
European Games gold medallists add U22 European crown to their resume
2015 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship

Macedo de Cavaleiros, Portugal, August 30, 2015. The 2015 edition of the CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship reached its climax on a hot late summer day in northern Portugal with Switzerland’s Nina Betschart and Nicole Eiholzer eventually adding to their already impressive resume another gold medal after edging Poland’s Katarzyna Kociolek and Dorota Strag in the ‘grand finale’ (21-19, 21-18). Lithuania’s Monika Povilaityte and Ieva Dumbauskaite settled for bronze after besting Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha and Nadezhda Makroguzova (18-21, 27-25, 15-12) in the ‘small final’. It has been an amazing season for Betschart/Eiholzer who back in June had claimed gold also at the Baku 2015 European Games where Povilaityte/Dumbauskaite had won bronze as well.   

‘Hot’ semi-finals

The final day of competition at Praia de Albufeira had started with two exciting semis. A tie-break was necessary to determine the outcome of the match starring Kociolek/Strag and Povilaityte/Dumbauskaite, with the 2014 silver medallists from Poland having the upper hand in the end with two consecutive blocks on Povilaityte (21-16, 19-21, 15-10).

In the second semi-final Betschart/Eiholzer imposed their rule as their Russian opponents seemed to have run out of fuel after the many close matches already contested in this competition. This resulted in an easy 21-13 set win for the Swiss ladies before the second set got a lot more competitive. Dabizha and Makroguzova claimed a 17:14 lead but they made some errors towards the end thereby paving the way with gold to Betschart/Eiholzer who finished it off at 22-20.

Bronze medal drama

The ‘small final’ was a display of Beach Volleyball at its finest from both sides. Russia’s Dabizha and Makroguzova played with renewed confidence in the first set sealing the final 21-18 with an ace. The second set was close through to the end with the teams trading points up to 25 all. Ieva Dumbauskaite pocketed the next point for Lithuania and an error from the Russian tandem sent the match into a tie-break. Povilaityte and Dumbauskaite played with a lot of focus there and Monika Povilaityte presented herself with a perfect birthday present sealing the final 15-12 to claim her third European age-group medal in partnership with Dumbauskaite after winning U18 gold in 2011 and U20 bronze in 2012.

“We’re very happy with this medal, we hoped for a top eight position or maybe for a top four place, so the bronze medal is very good. We wanted to be in the big final but in the semis Poland was too strong, and we’re relieved now because Russia plays very well and we’ve lost against them two times this season. After the first set nothing was going well with us, so we thought that we couldn’t win this match, but our coach told us to play like we always do in training and we managed to turn the tide,” said Ieva Dumbauskaite.
“It’s the greatest day of my life as I’m celebrating my 21st birthday, I scored the match point and I won the bronze medal,” stated her partner Monika Povilaityte.

Swiss delight in the final

Though Kociolek/Strag started the final with a terrific 7-1 run, Betschart and Eiholzer did not tremble and fought their way back levelling the score at 18 all before they finished the first set off at 21-19 in their favour. In the second set Kociolek/Strag tried to turn the tide but there was no way to stop Betschart’s attacks and Eiholzer did an amazing job at the net as well to cruise to the final 21-18. This is their fifth joint European medal after they won U18 silver and bronze in 2011 and 2012 and two consecutive gold medals in the U20 division in 2013 and 2014. Betschart is also a former U22 European champion – in 2013 with Anouk Vergé-Dépré – whilst last year Eiholzer had settled for bronze in Fethiye together with Dunja Gerson.

“It’s great! We’re very happy with this gold medal. It wasn’t an easy game, it was very tight and the victory did not look that safe in our hands, so we were quite anxious until the end. We had tight matches throughout the tournament with several of them ending in a tie-break so we had to be really good to deliver through to the end. We have been playing together for eight years now so we know each other very well which helps us in decisive matches when the players are on the edge. At this point it is really important to know your partner,” Nina and Nicole said.

“Now we are a little bit disappointed because we were leading in the first set but we lost three points in a row, so we have some regrets because of that, but it’s very good to have played the final, we repeated last year’s second place so we’re very happy about it,” Kociolek and Strag commented. Kociolek could celebrate her seventh medal in European age-group competitions since 2011, an impressive feat she has achieved with a number of different partners including also Karolina Baran and Jagoda Gruszczynska.

You can follow the competition also on social media with the official hashtag #EuroBeachVolleyU22

Click here for more info including entry lists, results, pictures and much more

News nr. 1 of 10
29/08/2015 17:41:00
2014 gold medallists dethroned, U22 European Champs to crown new queens

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