24/06/2017 19:23
Top-seeded Germans net gold medal at Baden Masters
2017 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship - Baden Masters

Baden, Austria, June 24, 2017. Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude of Germany lived up to their status of top-seeded team in the women’s competition of the Baden Masters and on Saturday late afternoon they triumphed with the gold medal after edging Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova and Nadezda Makroguzova 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 15-13).

The ‘grand finale’ of the women’s tournament was truly the climax of a competition, which started on Wednesday with the Country Quota for Germany. Laboureur and Sude looked like a well-oiled machine and comfortably claimed the opening set, but the Russians fought their way back in the second with Makroguzova once again displaying physical and technical skills, which are simply outstanding for a 20-year-old player. Birlova and Makroguzova trailed 7-10 in the all-deciding tiebreak and at this stage it looked like gold was going Germany’s way, but the young Nadezda stepped up to score three points in a row and level the count. Laboureur and Sude asked for a timeout in an effort to break their opponent’s rhythm, and they succeeded in doing so, eventually netting the gold medal (15-13). This is their second gold from a CEV Masters after last year they had stood on top of the podium at the tournament in Jurmala, Latvia. As for Makroguzova, she can be happy with her second medal in six days – last Sunday she won gold at the #EuroBeachVolleyU22 together with Svetlana Kholomina.

Visibly tired, Laboureur and Sude were nevertheless happy with their success: “It has been a very tough final match. The Russians kept on fighting and we had to find solutions to stand their challenge. Fortunately, we had prepared for this match together with our coach, stuck with our game plan and this eventually worked out just fine. Of course we are tired because it has been a long day and because of the heat as well, but we are over the moon! We liked it here at Baden and hopefully we will come back again next year.”

Drained Hüberli and Betschart fight until the end to win bronze

Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli regrouped after their semi-final setback and rallied to a come-from-behind victory in the third place match to net their second medal in as many appearances at the Strandbad. Last year they won gold, and this time they had to be content with bronze – and yet they can be happy with their achievement, especially since this came in dramatic fashion. The Swiss tandem trailed 10-12 in the tiebreak when they asked for a medical timeout. After the break, they scored two points in a row to get back on track – but Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova responded by taking two points of their own. The Czechs could not use any of their match balls, and a mistake by Kolocova eventually sealed a 2-1 victory (21-18, 19-21, 16-14) for the Swiss. The results accounts for the second medal on the international circuit in as many weeks for Switzerland after last Sunday Joana Heidrich and Anouk Vergé-Dépré finished second at the FIVB World Tour event in The Hague.

“It was a really tough match, we finished our previous game only two hours before this one and there are 33 degrees on centre court, and we had to fight all the time since we almost always trailed in the score,” Hüberli said. “We can be satisfied with this third place, since the teams who played here this year are much stronger than in 2016 and we played some good matches. There are things we can improve on but overall it was a good tournament. Any medal and any such result gives you a lot of motivation, especially when you are short of energy as we were today, but you fight and win in the end.”

Earlier in the day…

Quarterfinals produce no sensations

Another sunny and incredibly hot day at the Strandbad started with the quarterfinals where Laboureur/Sude delivered an impressive show of strength to down Riikka Lehtonen/Anniina Parkkinen of Finland in what was a literally one-sided game (21-11, 21-12). Laboureur and Sude needed only 30 minutes to get the job done and a spot in the semis to play there Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova. The Czechs did not have to take to the sand at all on Saturday morning, since they benefitted from the withdrawal of their Russian opponents Evgenia Ukolova and Anastasia Barsuk. On Friday night, as they played their last game in the pool, Ukolova dislocated her right shoulder and had to bid an early farewell to the tournament.

Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli seem to have a special connection with Baden where they won a gold medal in 2016 at the early stages of their still young partnership. The Swiss girls were able to stand the challenge brought by Ukraine’s Ievgeniia Shchypkova and Valentyna Davidova, who missed out on a couple of set balls in the first set before Betschart/Hüberli rallied to a 2-0 hard-fought victory (23-21, 23-21). “We like it here very much,” Hüberli said, “and we are happy with being back in Baden.” “This tournament is completely different compared to the one we won last year since the level is much higher this time around,” her partner Betschart, a multiple age group European champion commented.

The newly crowned U22 European champion Nadezda Makroguzova of Russia and partner Ekaterina Birlova progressed to the semis as well after claiming a 21-19, 21-19 victory against Elsa Baquerizo and Angela Lobato of Spain. Baquerizo is a two-time Olympian and double medallist from the European championship with Liliana Fernandez Steiner, who is currently pregnant with her first child and due to deliver a baby girl in August. “She’s happy with that and she is finally enjoying one whole summer away from the Beach Volleyball courts, taking some time for herself and for her family who will grow soon,” Baquerizo commented.

Russians and Germans storm to semi-final victories  

Laboureur/Sude made up for a relatively slow start as they slowly imposed their quality in their semi-final with Kolocova/Slukova. The Czechs caught a promising start to the match but the Germans ended up rallying to a comprehensive 21-14, 21-14 victory to secure their spot in the gold medal match of the Baden Masters without dropping a single along the way. To celebrate their achievement, they took to the water slides available at the Strandbad:

Ekaterina Birlova and Nadezda Makroguzova added another victory to their impressive tally at Baden – where their campaign started on Thursday with two matches in the qualification round. Birlova and Makroguzova emerged victorious from an incredibly thrilling opening set, where they could not use a number of set balls before they eventually finished it off 30-28. The second set was a bit more one-sided (21-17), with the only 20-year-old Makroguzova showing her class and determination, qualities that are truly remarkable for a player who is still that young.

“We are of course happy to be in the final; the Swiss ladies challenged us with their game but we managed to reach the victory,” said Birlova, a silver medallist from the 2015 European Championship together with Evgenia Ukolova. “We have reached the final step by step and I think we have grown as a team throughout this tournament. We made it through the qualification first and then through the pool phase as well. We did not expect to be in the final, so we have no plans this far, we just want to take some rest and refocus.”   

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News nr. 1 of 11
23/06/2017 19:42:00
Austrians put up a fight at Baden Masters, only Doppler/Horst leave court smiling

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