Beach Volleyball

Portugal, Austria, France and Latvia stay in quest for the Olympic ticket


Article Sat, Jun 15 2024
Author: Martyna Szydlowska

Portugal, Austria, France and... progressed to the semifinals of the Beach Volley Nations Cup Final in Jurmala, staying in the quest for the last spot in the men's Olympic tournament in Paris. Saturday quarterfinals turned out to be fierce battles as all the teams didn't spare effort, doing their best to prolong their chances for a ticket to Paris. On Sunday morning Portugal will face France, once Austria will play against Latvia.

A thrilling battle between Norway and Portugal started the men's quarterfinals. Many expected Norway to be a favourite of this game, but it turned out to be a nail biting race for spots in the semifinals. Although Markus Mol and Jo Sunde outclassed the Sousa brothers (21-11, 21-11), dominating in all components the second part of this tier was a completely different story. Hugo Campos and Joao Pedrosa entered the court with a clear mission - to extend this match-up to the Golden Set. And they did it after a great three-setter (21-19, 18-21, 15-13). Despite a powerful block from Mol, they played highly efficiently in attack and it was their key. The Golden Set started better for Norway, but from being 7-8 down Portugal recorded three consecutive monster blocks performed by Pedrosa and eventually they sealed this set 15-11.

We are very happy. I still can't believe it. Norway is a tough team to beat and we beat them - it's unbelievable. Also the way we did it - we won a three-set game and then we won the Golden Set, simply unbelievable. I'm thankful to my team and thankful for the support we got.

Hugo Campos

In the second quarterfinal duel Austria took on Poland and it was one-team show, as Austria dominated both encounters. Timmo Hammarberg and Moritz Pristauz beat Maciej Rudol and Filip Lejawa (21-17, 21-14). Christoph Dressler and Philipp Waller incapacitated Piotr Kantor and Jakub Zdybek (21-16, 21-12), working perfectly in block (6 block stuffs from Dressler), they eliminated Poland from the race for the Olympic ticket.

France, who has one guaranteed spot at the Olympics, keep fighting to get also their second team to the spectacular Eiffel Tower Stadium. Remi Bassereasu and Julien Lyneel battled it out in a tight three-setter against Hendrikx/Vercautren (21-17, 17-21, 15-12). Bassereasu hammered in this game as many as 19 winning spikes. Teo Rotar and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat sealed the deal for France with a quick win over the Vandecaveye brothers (21-15, 21-18). Teo Rotar recorded 4 killing blocks and 14 winning spikes and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat tlied 11 attacks with impressive 69% success.

Due to Bennet Poniewaz's injury Germany forfeit the first game, so Latvia's Ardis Bedritis and Arthurs Rinkevics recorded 2-0 (w/o) win over Henning/Poniewaz. The local favourites Martins Plavins and Kristians Fokerots took on Lukas Pfretzschner and Sven Winter. With strong support from the stands the Latvians won the opening set, but the Germans came back on the right track in the next set proving better in all components and keeping the momentum to open well tie-break. Blocks from Pfretzschner and great spikes from Winter let them stop  Plavins/Fokerots who fought hard until the end (21-16, 15-21, 13-15). Sven Winter hammered 30 points in this (25 spikes - 66% success and 5 aces). Thus, the fans once again could witness the Golden Set. The decisive part started with a 7-3 lead of the local heroes who returned to the court with fresh energy. Pfretzschner's service run helped the Germans to reduce the gap 8-6, but it met a super strong response from Latvia, who won this clash 15-9 and secured the last spot in the semis.

It's great to beat the higher-ranked team in such an important tournament. Everything that failed in the game, started to work in the Golden Set. It's a pleasure to play at home in front of the home supporters. Tomorrow there will be a strong team on the opposite side, they beat Poland, so it won't be easy, the Austrians are favorites. We have to keep playing calmly and wisely, don't commit unforced mistakes.. Now we have to forget about today's game and prepare for tomorrow from scratch.

Martins Plavins/Kristians Fokerots