30/06/2019 19:30
The Netherlands and Russia triumph with gold at #EuroBeachVolleyU20
CEV U20 Beach Volleyball European Championships 2019

Göteborg, Sweden, June 30, 2019. On Sunday, teams from the Netherlands and Russia claimed top honours as the 2019 edition of the CEV U20 Beach Volleyball European Championships ended in Göteborg. Yorick de Groot/Matthew Immers were just dominant in the men’s competition, where Germany’s Benedikt Sagstetter/Rudy Schneider and home heroes Joel Andersson/Alfred Brink completed the podium. Youth Olympic champions Mariia Bocharova and Maria Voronina of Russia sealed their third straight U20 women’s title, a truly unprecedented feat in the history of the competition, with teams from the Netherlands and Spain completing the podium.

Click here for highlights of all of the medal matches.

After three intense days, it was finally time to decide the podium in Göteborg. The temperature had been rising with every day and the organisers used only the centre court to make sure that the audience did not miss out on a single action.

First up was the women’s semi-final between Italy’s Claudia Scampoli/Nicol Bertozzi and Raïsa Schoon/Emi van Driel of the Netherlands. Schoon/van Driel had looked stable throughout the tournament and were looking to bring home their eleventh consecutive win in Beach Center, Göteborg, after taking home all of their five games during the 1-Star World Tour Tournament earlier this year and five in this Championship that far. The Dutch girls took the lead early on in the first set and never really let the Italians reach the high level they had displayed in the quarterfinal. They seemed to do nothing wrong and the first set ended with a convincing score of 21-9. In the second set, the Netherlands took command but Italy would not give up without a fight. At 20-18, Schoon/van Driel took a timeout after losing a few points in a row, they came back on court and a smart poke shot courtesy of Schoon sent them to the gold medal match.

The second semi-final on the women’s side was between the top-seed Russians Mariia Bocharova/Maria Voronina and Spain’s Daniela Álvarez Mendoza/Tania Moreno Matveeva. Russia looked strong during the first set, and even if Spain caught up in the end, they made sure to finish it 21-19 in their favour. The Spanish girls used the momentum they built in the end of the first set to get a head start in the second, but the Russians did not flinch and in time for the technical timeout, they had both caught up and edged ahead. It looked like Russia were going to close the second set when the numbers were approaching 21, but Spain did not stop fighting and managed to push the second set to a dramatic end. The set could have gone both ways but in the end, Russia could join the Netherlands in the gold medal match after a 26-24 win.

Despite losing in the semis, home heroes Alfred Brink and Joel Andersson were the real sensation of the tournament, securing a historic bronze medal for Sweden.

Joel Andersson/Alfred Brink, being the only Swedish team left in the tournament, filled the stands, as they were getting ready to take on the strong duo Benedikt Sagstetter/Rudy Schneider from Germany. The expectations were running high and the crowd looked pumped, but Germany showed no mercy towards the home heroes and completely dominated the first set with the final numbers 21-13. The second set got off to a similar start and Sweden was trailing behind. However, point by point, the Swedes reignited and started to catch up to the delight of the fans. The hunt was on and the second set turned out to be quite a nail-biter. Sagstetter/Schneider grabbed the win with just two points more than Andersson/Brink as the set ended 21-19. “It was quite a nice game since we won. It was kind of difficult to play against the home team, but it is an extra motivation when the crowd is against you,” the German boys said after the game. Visibly happy the boys described the feeling of being in the big final: “We have wanted to play international tournaments for a long time and we never had the chance. This is our first tournament together and we wanted to show what we are capable of; now we are going to eat something and watch the other semi-final, then go to the hotel and rest.” Their opponents would be Yorick de Groot/Matthew Immers from the Netherlands, as they played a convincing semi-final against Cyprus. De Groot/Immers had no pardon as they took home the game in two straight sets, 21-15, 21-11.

Exhausted but happy - bronze medal winners Daniela Alvarez Mendoza and Tania Moreno Matveeva of Spain.

Later in the afternoon, first up to battle for the bronze medal were Italy’s Scampoli/Bertozzi and Spain’s Álvarez/Moreno. Both teams had been looking strong throughout the tournament and when Italy took the lead in the first half of the first set, Álvarez/Moreno did not hesitate to respond. The game was close again at 14-14 and after catching up, the Spanish girls kept on grinding against a frustrated Italy – 21-17 to Spain was the result in the first set. Álvarez/Moreno kept the pace high at the start of the second set, but Scampoli/Bertozzi worked hard and the set was full of intense rallies and emotions. “It was so hot, seriously. We are a team that shouts a lot, but now we were very quiet and just focused on those little moments that finally gave us a win,” Moreno explained after the game. When Spain won the 21st and last point, they fell to the ground, hugging each other before thanking their opponents for a well-fought game. “The side-outs were very important and also the service. We were focused on the side-out and finally the defence was also quite good,” the Spanish girls said after the game when asked why they were the eventual winners. “I do not know how we are going to celebrate, I think it is maybe the fourth or fifth bronze of my partner, so she’s used to that. But for me I do not know, maybe with an ice cream,” Moreno said with a laugh.   

After a tough semi-final, the dream of a medal was still alive for the Swedish boys Andersson/Brink. Standing in their way were Cyprus’ Sotiris Siapanis/Odysseas Savvides, a team that played with a lot of heart and passion during their previous games in the tournament. Andersson/Brink were able to carry the host nation all the way to the final day – and they did not disappoint as they entered the centre court to play their last game for this time. A great defensive play and aggressive side-outs carried the home stars through two straight sets, ending 21-17, 21-15. “We wanted to bounce back from a less successful semi-final. We wanted to play a strong offensive game and be happy with the game afterwards,” the boys explained. The success was a fact, and the bronze medal for Sweden in Göteborg was more than anyone had dared to hope. “We feel enormous joy, we are over the moon right now,” the duo said after the game, “we are going to have a victory ice cream to celebrate this bronze medal.”