16/07/2018 22:00
Sold-out stadium in Volleyball loving Utrecht sees favourites winning
2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship

Utrecht, The Netherlands, July 16, 2018. The contenders in Utrecht in Pools A and H were treated to a sold-out stadium, creating a whirlwind atmosphere on the Neude square in the city centre. Defending champions Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy started with an emphatic win over Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric / Stefan Basta. Home stars Jasper Bouter and Christiaan Varenhorst proved they weren’t bothered by the blocker's ankle injury and cruised to a 2-0 win.

The defending champions Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo had just one day of rest coming into the first match of #EuroBeachVolley, the top Italian duo won a bronze medal in the 5-star World Tour event of Gstaad, Switzerland. Facing Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta from Serbia, ranked 32 in Europe, was a welcome first match.

The Serbian team could keep up with the Italians quite well in the first set, up to the 12-point mark. After that the Italians opened the throttle and went straight to a 21-13 win. In the second set the Serbians came back from a 4-point deficit to just one point difference. In a greatly battled rally, where the ball was saved on both sides quite spectacularly, Nicolai and Lupo pushed through, giving them match point. With a Nicolai killblock the match was theirs.

Daniele Lupo: "Winning matches here is never easy, we are playing the best teams in the world. But we can improve match by match. The highest level of Beach Volleyball is being played in Europe, just look at the guys from Holland, Italy, Spain and Norway."  

Italian fan enjoying the Nicolai/Lupo win.         Daniele Lupo (left) and Paolo Nicolai thanking the Utrecht crowd

In the opening match on the Neude square in Utrecht there was a surprising victory for the Swiss couple of Nico Beeler and Marco Krattiger. The 27th ranked duo outplayed Czech first team Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner. The last four weeks Krattiger was unable to play due to injury, last week Beeler had to play the 5-star FIVB tournament of Gstaad with Quentin Métral and ended up 25th. 

Perusic and Schweiner were on a run of good results on the World Tour, coming fourth in Ostrava (4-Star) and fifth in Warsaw (4-Star). Last week in Gstaad the 17th spot was their end station. 

Beeler/Krattiger opened the match furiously, coming out flying, having no pressure because of Krattiger’s injury. It helped them in this match against the higher ranked Czechs. In just over half an hour they won the match 21-16, 21-14.

Nico Beeler (SUI) serving in their 2-0 victory over the Czech Republic

The most talked about match in the Netherlands leading up to this tournament was between Jasper Bouter and Christiaan Varenhorst (NED) and Youssef Krou / Quincy Aye (FRA). Not because this was a tight match-up, but the injured ankle of Dutch blocker Varenhorst he sustained in Gstaad on Thursday drew all the attention. 

The team decided on Monday there was a green light for playing and for them the issue was closed. Varenhorst and Bouter concentrated on the match and showed why the 212 cm tall blocker is considered to be one of the best on the circuit. His towering killblocks set the tone for a 21-9, 21-14 win.

Christiaan Varenhorst: "The more you talk and think about it (the ankle injury), the more important it becomes. So as a team we decided not to address this anymore and just focus on the match at hand. I was able to completely focus on the match." 

The stadium on the Neude square in Utrecht filled to capacity.

The closing match of Day 1 in Utrecht featured former European champions (2013) Pablo Herrera and Adrián Gavira (ESP). On Saturday they played the final of the Gstaad Major, travelled on Sunday and on Monday they had to play their first match in front of a sold-out stadium in Utrecht. 

Outsiders of the pool H, Tobias Winter and Julian Hörl (AUT), had the best strategy for the first set and surprised the Spanish veterans for a 21-16 close. Come the second set, the Spanish came into their mode of play. The level of the Austrians dropped a bit and the difference was made. With 21-15 and 15-7 they secured the win and are now second in Pool H.

Pablo Herrera: "We won the match, that's the most important. The European level in Beach Volleyball is very high right now." Adrián Gavira: "It's important that we started with a victory. Now it's step by step from one match to the other." 

Pablo Herrera (1) shotting down the line

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News nr. 26 of 43
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16/07/2018 21:20:00
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