Lucerne, Switzerland, May 13, 2016 – The women’s pool play of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships ended on Friday with eight pool winners from eight different countries. Among them are lucky losers Irina Zobnina and Urte Andriukaityte from Lithuania and Romanian qualifiers Adriana-Maria Matei and Beata Vaida.
Matei and Vaida are writing history as the first women’s team from Romania to compete at a FIVB event. Coming from qualification they topped pool H with three straight wins over Mexico, Switzerland and Russia.
Their final pool round win over Russia’s Daria Rudykh and Elizaveta Zayonchkovskaya (21-14, 21-16) was an accomplishment on it’s own, said Vaida. “It’s amazing. It’s like a dream. We have never won against Russia before. Our country has never won against Russia. It’s a revolution.”
“We didn’t expect this coming here”, said Matei. “This was our first tournament, we didn’t know the teams. And it was hard, we had a lot of emotions every game.”
Russia’s first team, Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina, did not make any mistakes grabbing the pool title in D with three straight wins.
And they don’t lack any confidence either. “When we saw the draw for the pool we were sure we would win it”, Makroguzova said. The 19-year old blond blocker is the more experienced one in the Russian team. She won silver at the U19 in 2013, 9th place at the 2014 U19 and has also been playing on the World Tour since 2013.
“Two years ago at the U19 in Porto the level was not that good”, she said. “But here in Lucerne there are maybe six teams that are very strong, like Switzerland, Germany and Canada. That makes me happy because it means beach volleyball has a future.”
Mentioning other strong teams Makroguzova might have overlooked Dutch team Joy Stubbe and Nika Daalderop, the reigning U20 European champions. The Dutch also booked straight wins, over teams from Finland, Turkey and Switzerland.
“This was a good start”, said Stubbe looking back at pool play. “Our first match against Finland yesterday went well and we just took it from there.”
The Dutch girls are both tall and that is definitely an advantage they have over the other teams in this competition, who usually have a short defender and a more or less tall blocker.
Stubbe: “I think it’s an advantage since we both have a strong attack. So if the defence is good, we can finish the rally quite quickly. For me as a tall defender it’s nice to have such a big blocker, because they have to put it over her first. So I don’t have to be that quick in defence.”
Talking about their European title Stubbe said: “That was last year. This is a new tournament and a new year. But it was a top tournament for us and we hope to follow through here, but there’s no guarantee.”
Another contender for the podium might be USA’s Sarah Sponcil and Torrey Van Winden. They topped pool C with wins over Italy, Peru and Japan.
Van Winden: “It’s been fun so far. We had a strong serving game and our setting for each other has become a lot better as we get used to each other. Our wins are kind of a result of that.”
The American girls don’t know a lot of the other players, but they are relying on their own strength. Sponcil: “Just sticking to our side of the net. I am not worrying what is on the other side. Just taking it one point at the time. This is how we do it."
It’s going to be new balls, new chances in the next phase of the tournament, Sponcil reflected on the knockout phase. “It’s anyone’s game right now. There are a lot of great teams out here. It’s anyone’s day.”
The other three teams that topped their pool and earned a bye in the first round of eliminations are Brazil’s Eduarda Duda Santos Lisboa and Ana Patricia Silva Ramos, Viktoryia Shalayeuskaya and Viktoryia Siakretava from Belarus and Germany’s Lisa Arnholdt and Sarah Schneider. Quick linksFIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships Lucerne 2016Men - Qualification resultsWomen - Qualification resultsMen - Main draw resultsWomen - Main draw results