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20/07/2018 23:50
Liliana/Elsa back among top four teams of #EuroBeachVolley
2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship

Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, July 20, 2018. Liliana Fernández/Elsa Baquerizo achieved a sensational result as they completed the composition of the #EuroBeachVolley semis after defeating the bronze medal winners from the 2017 CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship, Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude (GER) in the quarterfinal played on Friday in Apeldoorn. The Spanish team played despite an injury of Liliana and remained consistent in the last set, when they dominated the court, claiming a spot among the top four teams at #EuroBeachVolley. In the men’s competition Belgians Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle (BEL) beat Mathias Berntsen/Hendrik Nikolai Mol (NOR) in the Round of 24 to face another Norwegian team on Saturday, while the hosting team Jasper Bouter/Christiaan Varenhorst overcame Germany’s Philipp Arne Bergmann/Yannick Harms to meet Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (POL) in the Round of 16.

The women’s competition took centre stage in Apeldoorn again, when Liliana Fernández/Elsa Baquerizo (ESP) and Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude (GER) met for the second time at the 2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship. In their previous match during the Pool Phase, Laboureur/Sude had emerged victorious, defeating the Spanish duo 2-0 (21-19, 21-19). 

Both teams played very tight from the first minutes of the quarterfinal, when Laboureur/Sude began to take a slight lead. Liliana/Elsa kept close until the end of the set, which the Germans eventually claimed at 23-21. Both teams sided out in the second set, but Liliana/Elsa increased their tempo, staying in the match after winning the second set 22-20. From that point onward the Spanish duo put a lot of pressure on the German team, achieving a 12-7 lead in the tiebreaker, which they kept until they won the match 2-1 (21-23, 22-20, 15-10).

“We are just so happy right now, we are in the semifinals again! We have worked hard for it, so I am just really happy right now,” said Elsa after the match. “Laboureur/Sude have had a very good season so far, they were a very tough opponent in both matches. Today after the first set we managed to regain our focus and we were very consistent in the tiebreak and this allowed us to win,” she explained. 

On Saturday Liliana/Elsa will be moving to The Hague, where they will be playing in the semi-final against Swiss duo Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli. 

“We will be on the same page with Nina Betschart/Tanja Hüberli who will also be arriving to The Hague for the Final Round, so it will be a bit of a new environment for both of us,” Elsa said on the chances against the Swiss team.

"You have to beat the Vikings to become legends", says Dries Koekelkoren. 

In the men’s competition, the teams are still competing for their spots in the quarterfinals, with the Round of 24 beginning on Friday afternoon. Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle (BEL) and Mathias Berntsen/Hendrik Nikolai Mol (NOR) put up a tough spectacle, with the Belgians eventually taking the winning point. The Norwegians dominated the first set, making it difficult for Koekelkoren/van Walle, but the Belgians raised to the occasion in the second set, playing point by point. Norway did not use their chances with a match point in the second set, turning the match into a three-set spectacle. The last set kept the crowd at the edge of their seats, as Koekelkoren/van Walle needed three match points to seal the deal 2-1 (14-21, 26-24, 17-15).

“We had to change our play after the first set, because we were not at our best in block and had troubles with our side out,” said Koekelkoren after the match. “The communication between us was getting worse so after the lost set we told each other we have to do something and we discussed what we wanted to change. In the next set we were talking a lot more. We discussed what we can do in each element before each serve, and it worked, so I’m really happy about that.”

Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle reached the Round of 16 to meet another opponent from Norway

Koekelkoren/van Walle arrived to Apeldoorn form The Hague, while Berntsen/Mol moved from Rotterdam, but Koekelkoren does not see the change of environment as a reason for their performance in the first set. “The change of town did not influence us at all. Both cities are not that far from each other and the Apeldoorn court is also really nice. We had to adapt a little bit to the circumstances but we also had to do it in our first game at #EuroBeachVolley in The Hague and that was not an issue for us there either,” he said recalling the winning match against Polish duo Kacper Kujawiak/Maciej Rudol in Pool B. 

Koekelkoren/van Walle entered the 2018 CEV DELA Beach Volleyball European Championship as the fourth team from last year’s edition of the tournament, but their goals for this year are more cautious. “The goal for us this year was to reach the quarterfinals and to get there we have to pass another Norwegian team, Anders Berntsen Mol/Christian Sandlie Sørum,” Koekelkoren mentions their next rivals. “I think we are the underdogs of this match, they are really a top team now. They won the gold medal at the Gstaad Major last week, so they are on fire at the moment. But we also had a great tournament there, so I hope we can make a good tactical plan because we will need that to beat a top team like them. A friend of mine sent me a message yesterday saying “You have to beat giants to become legends” and I told him in response “You have to beat Vikings to become legends,” he laughs.

Jasper Bouter/Christiaan Varenhorst are through to the Round of 16 at #EuroBeachVolley

Jasper Bouter/Christiaan Varenhorst had the opportunity to present themselves to another city, as the hosting team moved from Pool H in Utrecht to Apeldoorn, following the Drawing of Lots. Their Round of 24 opponents, Philipp Arne Bergmann/Yannick Harms (GER) were also new to the stage in Apeldoorn, having previously competed in Pool G in The Hague. The first set began under full control of Varenhorst/Bouter, but the Germans fought back in the second, bringing another three setter to the local crowd. The third set was going in favour of Bergmann/Harms, who kept a slight lead throughout the tiebreak, but the Dutch team regained focus at 13-13, claiming the final two points of the match.
In the Round of 16 on Saturday Varenhorst/Bouter will meet Pool D winners, Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak.

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