CEV Beach Volelyball Continental Cup 2014-2016

Press release

Sweden, France, Czech Republic and Italy celebrate golden match victories

Czech Republic at the CEV Continental Cup Final in Stavanger, Norway

Stavanger, Norway, June 22, 2016 – Four exciting and dramatic golden matches were played on Wednesday afternoon to cap off the opening day of the 2014-2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final in Stavanger.

On top of the perfect weather conditions, the fans in attendance also enjoyed four close matches, whose eventual winners completed the bracket for the quarterfinals set to follow on Thursday.

Sweden, France, Czech Republic and Italy emerged victorious from the golden matches and will be playing Ukraine, Austria, Spain and the Netherlands, respectively, in the next stage of the Olympic qualifying competition in Norway’s beach volleyball capital.

As expected, the match between Czech Republic and Slovakia will be decided in the golden match. After winning the first set at 21-16, 2016 European silver medallists Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova of Czech Republic were able to respond to a 6-0 run by their opponents, Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestercova, and erase a set ball as well, as to score a 22-20 win in the second frame of the match-up with Slovakia.

“I think that almost everyone had reckoned with this match to be played, since we got to know we would play Slovakia in the Round of 16,” Slukova said. “I think it’s really a pity that two teams of this level had to play each other at such an early stage of the competition. We played without feeling any pressure, as we are good friends with Natalia and Dominika, and of course we are not happy that we denied them of their Olympic dream, which is something they have been working so hard for in the last four years. However, this is sport and we all know the rules of this competition.”

Czech Republic will face Spain in the next phase.

“I think at this stage of the competition, there is no easy opponent even though Spain have come here without their best team – Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo – because they have already qualified for the Olympics,” Slukova added. “We are going to play fairly good teams, which sometimes make it to the main draw of the FIVB World Tour events, but mostly play at a slightly lower level. We will just take it one set at a time and see how far we can go. Right now our focus is not so much on feeling obliged to make it to the Olympics, but rather on playing to the best of our abilities.”

The silver medal they won at the EuroBeachVolley in Biel / Bienne has definitely boosted their confidence.

“Well, some people back home in the Czech Republic were still criticising our decision to part ways with our former partners, and this medal kind of silenced some of the critics because we have shown that this was actually the right thing to do,” Hermannova said. “The European Championship medal was a very nice reward especially for all those who have been supporting and working with us since last summer. This is what we are especially proud of following our exploit in Switzerland.”

Sweden and Finland also played the golden match to determine the side making it to the quarterfinals to play Ukraine in the next stage of the competition. 

Karin Lundqvist and Anne Lie Rininsland added another chapter to the fairytale they started earlier this month at the EuroBeachVolley, as they cruised to a 2-0 (22-20, 21-19) victory over Finland’s top team Riika Lehtonen and Taru Lahti. The Swedish pair got started only after another dose of drama – in the first set the Swedes erased a Finnish set ball before Lahti’s mistake sealed their 22-20 win. Lundqvist/Rininsland trailed also in the second set by four points at 14-10, but they produced an 11-5 run to finish it all off at 21-19. However, they missed out on the two match balls and called for a timeout before Lehtonen served into the net.

“I think our opponents felt a lot of pressure because they have been dreaming of qualifying for the Olympics for three years and have been working for this goal for a long time,” Lundqvist said. “I know this feeling very well. The same happened to me last year when I was still playing with Nina Grawender and we seemed well on track to be able to make it to Rio, but she got injured and all of our hopes were kind of blown away. Now we just want to enjoy the moment, play one match at a time and see how far this is going to take us. Next on our agenda is a lot of video scouting in order to be as prepared as possible for the next round against Ukraine.”

Italy’s Laura Giombini and Rebecca Perry have been playing together for a short time but their partnership produced an outstanding result on Wednesday, when they came from behind to claim their golden match with Poland’s Dorota Strag and Jagoda Gruszczynska.

Giombini/Perry fought back after they lost the opening set at 21-15, Italian pair  won the second and third sets at 21-19 and 16-14, respectively, to secure a spot for Italy in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the last golden match of the day saw France’s Laura Longuet and Alexandra Jupiter caused a sensation by edging Russia’s Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova 2-0 (27-25, 24-22). Longuet/Jupiter showed nerves of steel, as they erased three set balls in the dramatic first set before cashing their fourth opportunity to claim the edge in the match.

In the early stages of the second set, they seemed to pay a high price for such an effort as they trailed by six points at 11-5, but produced a sensational comeback to pull off a 24-22 set win that shaped up a tie with Austria in the quarterfinals.

As for Russia, they still can make it to Rio 2016 if they finish among the top two sides of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Continental Cup tournament they will be hosting in Sochi from July 6 to 10.

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