Beach Volleyball

CEV Beach Nations Cup Final: Women’s Pool Previews


Article Tue, Jun 11 2024
Author: Guilherme Torres

There’s one spot left for European women’s beach volleyball teams at the Paris Olympics and 12 countries will battle for it this week during the CEV 2024 Beach Nations Cup Final, which will take place in Jurmala, Latvia, from June 13-16.

The Klinger sisters Dorina and Ronja will lead a strong Austrian team in Jurmala

The tournament will begin with the 12 nations split into four pools, with the two best in each pool advancing to the elimination rounds, which will have the quarterfinals, the semifinals and the final.

The Beach Nations Cup has a different competition format, promoting ‘country vs. country’ battles. Each nation is represented by two teams and the duels take place in a best-of-three format, with the decider, if needed, being a 15-point golden set.

Beach Nations Cup Final – Women

The drawing of lots held on Tuesday set the path for the 12 participating teams, so let’s see what to expect from each of the four women’s pools:

Pool A

Poland have one of the most talented and experienced squads in the women’s event as Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz were serious contenders for a spot in Paris via the Olympic Rankings while Kinga Wojtasik, a Rio 2016 Olympian, and Katarzyna Kociolek have several years among the elite of the sport.

Wachowicz and Gruszczynska will represent Poland in the tournament

Their main opponents in Pool A should be Czechia, who have an elite-level team in two-time Olympian Barbora Hermannová and partner Marie-Sára Štochlová and hope 21-year-olds Kylie Neuschaeferova and Marketa Svolizova rise to the occasion in the biggest tournament of their careers to date.

Led by Sarah Cools and Lisa Van Den Vonder, who won seven medals in lower-level international events over the last seven years, Belgium are the dark horses in the pool. Formed by 20-year-old Jade Van Deun and 19-year-old Youna Coens, the country's second team has very little international experience and could use the limited information available about them as a weapon to catch opponents off guard.

Pool B

One of the most traditional European beach volleyball nations, Italy will be led by lefties Claudia Scampoli and Margherita Bianchin, who won six golds at lower-level international events since 2020 and are certainly a team on the rise. Reka Orsi Toth and Giada Bianchi are just in their first years as partners, but are up to a promising start, having won medals at two Beach Pro Tour Futures events and advanced from the qualifier in a Challenge tournament.

Scampoli and Bianchin have had success over the last few years

Expect Austria to pose a strong challenge to them as the duo formed by the Klinger sisters Dorina and Ronja has made incredible progress over the last few years and is among the strongest the event. An injury to Lena Plesiutschnig prevented her and Katharina Schützenhöfer from trying to qualify via the Olympic Rankings, but they are also among the most talented and experienced teams to compete in Jurmala.

With two strong opponents in their pool, Slovenia will try to defy the odds and advance. Their top team of Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin has shown their ability to battle the best in the continent in the past, so the performances of 20-year-olds Živa Javornik and Maja Marolt could be decisive.

Pool C

Pool C is probably the most balanced in the event as all three nations have what it takes to advance. The Netherlands continue to develop new players at an impressive rate and will have one of the youngest squads in the tournament with Brecht Piersma (21)/Wies Bekhuis (22) and Emi van Driel (24)/Kirsten Bröring (23).

Lahti and Athiainen had a solid run to qualify via the Olympic Rankings

Finland’s Taru Lathi and Niina Ahtiainen were serious contenders to qualify via the Olympic Rankings until the last tournament and with their second duo of Anniina Parkkinen and Valma Prihti also having significant international experience, they will be tough opponents to any team that crosses their path.

Norway can also make noise, especially with their top team of Sunniva Helland-Hansen and Emilie Olimstad, which has appeared and performed well in big events. Frida Berntsen, 22, and Oda Steinvåg, 23, are still working their way up in the rankings, but could cause an upset this week.   

Pool D

Hosts Latvia will count on the experience of 29-year-old Marta Ozolina, who has been competing internationally since 2012, and 28-year-old partner Luize Skrastina to make the most of the homecourt advantage. Their second team is much younger, with 21-year-old Anete Namike and 20-year-old Anija Ozolina.

After several years playing with her twin sister Iryna, Inna Makhno will be with Diana Lunina this week

A rising force in the continent, Ukraine have more than enough talent to qualify, but both of their teams were recently formed and will need to develop their chemistry on the court. One of the most promising players to emerge in Europe over the last few years, two-time age group continental champion Tetiana Lazarenko has been with Maryna Hladun for just a few months while her former partner Diana Lunina and new teammate Inna Makhno will be together for just the second time in their careers.

Lithuania, who qualified a team via the Rankings and will appear in the Olympics for the first time, will try to take advantage of the good momentum and succeed in Jurmala too, with the Grudzinskaite sisters Rugile and Gerda forming one of their duos and veteran Ieva Dumbaskaite and Ieva Vasiliauskaite also appearing together.