Lucerne, Switzerland, May 14, 2016 – Much to their surprise Reika Murakami and Hana Deguchi made it into the last 16 at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships on Saturday. It is the first time the Japanese girls participated in an international tournament and they already booked the best result ever for their country.
With two wins in pool play on Friday Murakami (19) and Deguchi (17) finished second in pool C. In the first elimination round they defeated Poland’s Martyna Kloda and Agata Trybula 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) to reach the last 16.
“We secretly hoped for this”, Murakami said after the match. “And we were determined to give it our best, but we still can’t believe we got this far. We’re so happy!”
Murakami is a psychology student from Ehime, Kyoto-resident Deguchi is still in high school. They both play beach volleyball locally and were selected by one of the national coaches. Japan has a national tour for seniors, but there is no age-group tour yet.
The two Japanese girls are impressed with the powerful and tall teams they have encountered in Lucerne. Not being the tallest players in the tournament, they had to be creative with low, quick sets to avoid the big blockers. And their serving pressure needs to be perfect.
“This is one of our strong points”, Murakami said. “But we are not happy with the way we serve so far, we can do better than this.“
Travelling to Europe for the first time, they encountered another problem: jetlag. Murakami: “We have been sleeping a lot here, but we wake up in the middle of the night every time. That makes it difficult to focus on the game.”
Luckily for the Japanese their first match against Poland was in the morning. In the second elimination round this afternoon they are up against two of the tallest players in the tournament: Joy Stubbe and Nika Daalderop from the Netherlands.Quick linksFIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships Lucerne 2016Men - Qualification resultsWomen - Qualification resultsMen - Main draw resultsWomen - Main draw results