14/07/2019 21:39
Russians top #EuroBeachVolleyU22 men’s podium
CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship 2019

Antalya, Turkey, July 14, 2019. Alexey Gusev and Pavel Shustrov are the big winners of the men’s CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship 2019 in Antalya. The 18-year-old Russians played a phenomenal tournament and reached the top of the podium after a spectacular final. This is their second continental title, after the gold medals at the 2017 U18 European Championship. The talented pair also have bronze medals from the 2018 U19 World Championship and the 2018 European Championship to their names.

Germany’s Lukas Pfretzschner and Robin Sowa, seeded 12th in the #EuroBeachVolleyU22 main draw, claimed the silver medal on Turkish sand. This is the duo’s second medal in major international competitions. The first one was gold from the 2016 U18 European Championship. 19-year-old Pfretzschner also has a silver medal from the 2018 U19 World Championship.

Ninth-seeded Timothée Platre and Théo Faure of France grabbed the bronze, their second podium finish, after the 2017 U20 European Championship bronze. Platre is also gold medallist from the 2016 U18 European Championship, silver medallist from the 2018 U20 European Championship and bronze medallist from the 2014 U17 World Championship, the 2015 U18 European Championship and the 2016 U20 European Championship.

The #EuroBeachVolleyU22 men’s podium at Antalya

The gold medal match pleased the spectators with almost an hour of hammer-and-tong Beach Volleyball. In the first set, third-seeded Gusev and Shustrov mounted a furious comeback from a 14-19 deficit to come out on top with an overtime win. Pfretzschner and Sowa took an early lead in the second set, but this time managed to keep it through the end and level the match. The tie-breaker also went into overtime before Shustrov’s monster block put an end to it all at 2-1 (22-20, 15-21, 17-15).

“They didn’t send us to play at the U20 European Championship or the U21 World Championship, but we came to the U22 European Championship and proved that they should have. I am very happy that it happened this way and I hope that next year we will defend our U22 title,” said Pavel Shustrov.

“It was our main goal to become U22 champions. We worked towards it, we prepared for it and here we are... We are glad that it happened. Big thanks to our whole staff who worked with us! Thanks to the fans who supported us! It has been a good tournament for us and we will continue working the same way in the future,” Alexey Gusev added.

“It was an amazing event. We did our best and, of course, we are happy with the silver,” commented Lukas Pfretzschner and Robin Sowa right after the final match. “Right now it feels a little bit disappointing, but I think in five or ten minutes we will be so happy about it, because this is such a great result for us.”

The bronze medal match was no less intriguing. 10th-seeded Italians Samuele Cottafava and Jakob Windisch took the first set against Platre and Faure by a solid margin and had a slight lead in the second, when the Frenchmen showed more concentration in the money time to draw level. The nip-and-tuck decider could have been anybody’s win, but it went France’s way – 2-1 (15-21, 21-18, 15-13).

“It’s amazing! A very hard match! We lost the first set, because I had difficulties on the block. In the second and the third sets we played very good sideout, but so did the Italians and that’s why it was always very close,” Timothée Platre and Théo Faure commented. “Maybe what made the difference in this match was mostly mental, because it was the last match and everyone was exhausted. We did not make any mistakes in the last set and some luck is also always part of the game. We are very happy, because we did it two years ago in U20 and now we did it again in U22.”

The four teams offered quite a spectacle for the fans on the stands in the two semifinal matches on Sunday morning. A hard-fought battle between France and Germany finished with a straight-set win for Pfretzschner and Sowa, accomplished by the narrowest of margins in each of the sets – 2-0 (23-21, 21-19). It took Russia and Italy three sets to determine the other finalist. The first one went very deep into overtime, before Gusev and Shustrov could claim it. Cottafava and Windisch reacted with a total domination of the second. The deciding set was also decided in extra time. The Russians wasted a double match point. They failed to convert their next opportunity to finish it off as well. The next time they served for the match, however, an amazing save by Shustrov was followed up with a clean kill by Gusev to shape up the final 2-1 (29-27, 11-21, 17-15).

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