Beach Volleyball

Men and women ready to battle at Nations Cup Pools in Heraklion


Article Wed, May 24 2023
Author: Guilherme Torres

Located on the island of Crete, the Greek city of Heraklion is set to host the first double-gender event in the Preliminary Phase of the 2023 CEV Beach Volleyball Nations Cup this week, with matches reuniting teams from eight different countries from Thursday to Saturday.

Nicolai and Cottafava represented Italy in thee Nations Cup gold medal match in Vienna last year

The Heraklion Karteros Beach Centre will host the men’s Pool C, which will feature teams from Denmark, Gibraltar, hosts Greece, Italy and Ukraine, and the women’s Pool E, which will have competition between Spanish, French, Greek and Portuguese. The winners of each pool will qualify for the 2023 Nations Cup Finals, which will be held later this year.

With a team featuring three Olympians and four players that combine for 48 medals in international tournaments, Italy stand out as the favorites among the men. The duos of Paolo Nicolai/Samuele Cottafava, who were part of the country’s silver medal campaign last season, and Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri have both had great success lately and will try to take the Italians to the Finals.

Ukraine appear as the main challengers to the Italians, especially thanks to their top team of Sergiy Popov and Eduard Reznik, which is currently ranked 36th in the world. The second Ukrainian duo boasts considerably less experience with 19-year-old Vitalii Savvin and 18-year-old Anton Moiseiev.

Popov and Reznik have been the most succesful Ukrainian team in quite some time on the men's side

Denmark will be represented by Jacob Brinck/Kristoffer Abell, who played at last year’s CEV EuroBeachVolley, and Mads Møllgaard/Nicolai Hovmann, Greece will have Iason Kanellos/Georgios Terzoglou and Stravos Ntallas/Dimitrios Chatzinikolaou in their team and Gibraltar will see Christian Segovia/Karl Pardo and Martin Gomez/Stefan Robba compete.

Pool E should see an intense battle between Spanish and French women’s teams, which both have players with strong experience on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour.

Spain gets into the tournament in good form after the victory of Liliana Fernández, the only player with Olympic experience in the women's field, and Paula Soria at last week’s Beach Pro Tour Futures tournament in Madrid. The country’s second team, formed by Belén Carro and Angela Lobato, also has solid experience at the international level.

Already guaranteed at the Paris 2024 Olympics as the host country, France will try to earn a second spot in the Games through the Nations Cup. The country will be represented by Lézana Placette/Alexia Richard and Aline Chamereau/Clémence Viera in the Greek tournament.

Vieira and Chamereau form one of the two French teams in the event

Portugal is sending a young team to Heraklion with 23-year-olds Inês Castro and Beatriz Pinheiro forming one team and 18-year-old Ana Monteiro and 17-year-old Margarida Santos joining forces in the other.

“We know that the strongest countries in the continent will try to secure a spot in Paris through the Nations Cup and that will make things very difficult for us. Our goal in Heraklion is to compete with France, Spain and Greece, which all have strong teams that are also in better form than us right now. We want to be competitive and do our best.”

Ricardo Rocha
Portugal’s Head Coach

The two teams that will represent hosts Greece in the women’s event will be Dimitra Manavi/Mirto Kalamaridou and Dionysia Matiou/Liza Triantafillidi.

Created in 2022, the Nations Cup brings added weight in 2023 and 2024, serving as the European pathway in the qualification system for the beach volleyball tournament of the Paris 2024 Olympics – the countries that win the 2024 Finals among the men and the women will each earn a spot in the Games. The seven pool winners and the host country will play in this year's Finals – the Netherlands and Poland were the first to qualify among the women.

The event 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.