Beach Volleyball

Netanya set to host big Nations Cup duels for the women and men


Article Thu, May 25 2023
Author: Guilherme Torres

Some of the top beach volleyball women’s and men’s players in Europe will be in Netanya, Israel, between Friday and Saturday as they represent their countries in the Preliminary Round of the 2023 CEV Beach Volleyball Nations Cup.

Reigning European champions Graudina and Samoilova will compete in Israel this week

With six Olympians and three Olympic medallists among the 16 women’s and 20 men’s athletes from seven countries that will be in action at the Wingate Institute Beach Center, the event in Israel is expected to have some of the most exciting duels in the Preliminary Round – the women’s and men’s finals will be streamed live on CEV’s YouTube channel.

The women’s Pool G will reunite teams from Bulgaria, Finland, hosts Israel and Latvia, which will battle for a spot in the 2023 Nations Cup Finals, which will be held later in the year.

Latvia have arguably the strongest team in the women’s tournament in reigning European champions and Tokyo Olympic semifinalists Tina Graudina and Anastasija Samoilova. The two will lead a squad that will also feature youngsters Deniela Konstantinova, 17, and Līva Ēbere, 15.

Lahti-Liukkonen and Ahtiainen won a Beach Pro Tour Challenge event last year (Photo: Volleyball World)

Finland, who have two teams with considerable international experience in Taru Lahti-Liukkonen/Niina Ahtiainen and Anniina Parkkinen/Sara Sinisalo, are expected to be the main challengers to the Latvians in Netanya.

Bulgaria, with Eva Petrova/Daria Kindova and Desislava Nikolova/Irena Mishonova, and Israel, with Anita Dave/Sofia Starikov and Yahli Ashush/Michal Barannik, will attempt to cause upsets. The tournament will also mark the return to the sand of the 28-year-old Starikov, who has been away since the end of 2021, when she got pregnant.

“This is a very exciting tournament for me, it’s my comeback. I’m really excited to compete with Anita again and see where we stand. I expect us to be competitive and my desire is to win. I know the Latvians and the Finnish are both very good, so it will be a challenge, but we’ll try to do our best.”

Sofia Starikov
Israeli Beach Volleyball Player
Dave and Starikov will play together for the first time in almost two years (Photo: FIVB)

Latvia is also expected to be involved with the deciding duel in the men’s Pool B, where the Netherlands and them stand out as the favorites over Israel, Romania and Scotland in the race for a spot in the 2023 Nations Cup Finals.

London 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Martins Plavins and blocker Edgars Tocs, who was his partner in the fourth-place finish campaign in Tokyo two years ago, will bring experience to the team, partnering with younger players – Plavins alongside 25-year-old Mihails Samoilovs and Tocs with 19-year-old Olivers Bulgacs.

The Dutch are bringing their top guns to Netanya this week with Rio 2016 Olympic medallists and world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen leading the team. They will play alongside Steven van de Velde and Matthew Immers, who recently made their temporary partnership a permanent one.

Dutch veterans Brouwer and Meeuwsen are among the main attractions of the event

Hosts Israel had to make a last-minute change in their top team, with 19-year-old Kevin Cuzmiciov replacing last year’s EuroBeachVolley participant Netanel Ohama to partner with Eylon Elazar. The country’s second duo will have Tomer Hadar and David Lanciano.

Completing the Pool B lineup, Romania will feature Bogdan Mehedinteanu/Stefan Anton and Robert Virlan/Sergiu-Florin Calin while Scotland will be represented by James McHardy/Ross McKelvie and Callum Stewart/David Lewis Mexson.

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.