20/07/2018 23:09
Home stars Keizer/Meppelink through to #EuroBeachVolley semis
2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship

Rotterdam, The Netherlands, July 20, 2018. Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink (NED) are the second women’s team to win a spot in the #EuroBeachVolley semifinals, after beating the Spanish team of Angela Lobato Herrero and Amaranta Fernandez Navarro 2-0 (21-10, 21-17). To get a shot at the gold medals, tomorrow they will have to get past the Czechs Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova, who in tonight’s quarterfinal scored a dominant victory over Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Birlova (21-13, 21-17). 

The last European Championship in which Sanne Keizer competed took place as many as six years ago and the finals in The Hague back then saw her claiming the highest prize. Meppelink, on the other hand, won gold two years later in Cagliari, Italy together with the same partner as Keizer in 2012 - Marleen van Iersel.

Fans in Rotterdam were on this day treated to not one but two home team matches, and the second game really gave the orange crowd a reason to celebrate. Keizer/Meppelink’s play against Lobato/Amaranta in set No. 1 was impeccable and after Keizer’s ace (10-5), followed by another scoring serve (11-5), it looked as if the Spanish team could abandon any hopes of winning that one. In fact, they barely made it into double digit figures (21-10).

After her last match on Thursday, Amaranta said that that they would “try to have fun and enjoy the game” and they did seem to do so, despite pressure mounting on both sides as the second set progressed. This approach kept them in play but Keizer/Meppelink were at least one step ahead at all times, comfortably reaching the final 2-0.

“We had a good game plan and executed it at a really high level. In the second set the nerves came into effect, but was happy that we kept steady enough, broke through and kept going. I am proud of our team, which is still a new one and I feel that we are growing with every game,” said Meppelink right after the match – happy, but not yet fully satisfied: “With going into the semis we did better than expected, but as a professional athlete, you don’t want to end up fourth, that’s the worst place there is (laughs), so we are not done yet. We want to battle for the medals,” she concluded.

Her teammate shared the joy: “It feels like I did it again – it’s been so long ago that I was playing a semifinal in the European Championship and in Holland. I’m so happy, because, of course, you want to play for the medals, especially in your home country, but we knew that we are a new team and we still play with ups and downs, so it can also go the other way round. I am happy that we found our ‘up’ and I hope we can keep it.”

Earlier that day reigning European champions Nicolai/Lupo were eliminated from the tournament by the Swiss team Heidrich/Gerson. The Italians showed great persistence and were close to catching up with the opponents at the end of set one, even though the Swiss duo arrived at their first set-ball at 20-16. The following set was a very close game with neither of the sides able to gain the upper hand, until Nicolai/Lupo actually did it at 23-21. In the third part of the match Heidrich and Gerson were really fired up and closed the match 2-1 (21-19, 21-23, 15-12).

“It’s the best feeling – beating the champions and while we didn’t play so good in the group phase, we are now playing better and better. It was really fun to be here and play against Nicolai and Lupo,” said Adrian Heidrich.

The second men’s match also went full length, even though the beginning did not hint at it, as the home team Dirk Boehle/Steven van de Velde managed to score their first point only after Ondrej Perusic /David Schweiner (CZE) scored eight of their own. The Dutch duo showed an entirely different face in the second set, while the Czechs were struggling with their own mistakes but in the third one the initiative was again in their hands: 2-1 (21-13, 15-21, 15-11). On Saturday the winners will face the unbeaten Russian duo Konstantin Semenov/Ilya Leshukov. “It will be the fourth match against them this season. We lost three so far, so now it’s time for revenge – even though statistics are against us,” the Czechs agreed.

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20/07/2018 23:00:00
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