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16/07/2018 21:20
Title contenders perform below par, yet pull out victories in The Hague
2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 16, 2018. After last night’s successful Opening Ceremony and Opening Match in Apeldoorn, the 2018 #EuroBeachVolley eventually got started at the iconic venue set up at Sportcampus Zuiderpark in The Hague as well, with four men’s matches. Home stars Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who carry on their shoulders the Dutch hopes of success at this year’s European Championship, lived up to the expectations of the crowd even though their performance was still below par.

Actually, one of their possibly toughest competitors for the European crown that will be at stake on Sunday, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins had a rocky start to the tournament as well. The ‘Lion King’ and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Smedins had to fight for three sets before they eventually edged Germany’s only team in the competition, Philipp Arne Bergmann and Yannick Harms 2-1 (21-13, 11-21, 15-12). It was not the ideal way to start the event for the 2015 European champions – but they were solid and consistent enough in the tiebreaker to pull out a victory and they will try to move on from there to secure their fifth European medal in six years.


Happy despite a rocky start to the tournament - Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins remain in contention for glory at the 2018 #EuroBeachVolley in the Netherlands

Samoilovs and Smedins were not the only top team to struggle on Monday afternoon in The Hague. Home heroes Brouwer/Meeuwsen did not impress either – and they almost ended up losing the opening set of their matchup with Turkey’s Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gögtepe. The gold medallists from this year’s Mediterranean Games in Tarragona failed to capitalise on as many as three set balls, before Meeuwsen’s blocking game and Brouwer’s athleticism and spikes propelled the Dutch side to a 25-23 win. The second set was not a show of strength for the 2013 world champions and 2016 Olympic bronze medallists – but they finally pulled out a 21-19 win to seal a 2-0 victory much to the delight of their raucous fans dressed in orange shirts.

“The first set did not go well and the second was not much better either,” Meeuwsen acknowledged after the match. “We will have to raise our level for the next matches.”


Dries Koekelkoren (BEL) in action on Monday at the #EuroBeachVolley in The Hague

Their toughest competitors for first place in Pool B, Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle, on the other hand, only needed 33 minutes to storm to a landslide 21-14, 21-12 win over Poland’s Kacper Kujawiak and Maciej Rudol, who only joined the tournament following the withdrawal of Germany’s Markus Böckermann and Lars Flüggen late last week.


Poland had nevertheless something to celebrate later on Monday as Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek claimed a 21-11, 21-17 victory over Lithuania’s Arnas Rumsevicius and Lukas Kazdailis in Pool G. The Poles were clearly dominant, especially in the first set, in a match opposing them to the bronze medal winners from this year’s Snow Volleyball European Championship in Wagrain, Austria.

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15/07/2018 23:34:00
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