Kazan, Russia, June 3, 2011 – Russia and Latvia will face off in the men’s final of Pool A of the CEV Continental Beach Volleyball Cup Zonal Phase while the hosts and the Netherlands will meet in the women’s edition.
France's Debora Giaoui sets to partner Mélody Benhamou as their country go down to the Netherlands in second day of the CEV Continental Beach Volleyball Cup
Russia saw off Great Britain 3-0 in their semifinal while Latvia had to go to four games against Switzerland as they eventually won 3-1.
Russia’s first match against Britain was a thriller with a final score of 31-29 and 22-20 in a match full of long rallies and emotion. Perfect work on the block by Yury Bogatov and nice defensive actions by Prokopiev provided a needed victory for the Russians. The two remaining games in this match turned out less emotional as Great Britain went down easily.
The second semifinal turned into a more interesting affair with Ruslan Sorokin and Alexander Samoilov winning both their matches while Plavins and Smedins went down to Swiss tandem Patrick Heuscher and Jefferson Ballaguarda. But Switzerland’s second duo eventually went down.
Meanwhile, in the women’s competition 2009 European champions Latvians Inguna Minusa and Inese Jursone put up a solid resistance against Russia leading at the start before Minusa and Jursone came back after two set points. The duel between the first teams of Russia and Latvia was one of the more interesting battles of the tournament. Minusa and Jursone didn’t leave the Russians any chances in the first set, while second one was taken by Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova, but it was far from easy, 21-19. However to the delight of local fans the Russian girls took victory in the decisive set.
The two pairs of the Netherlands team did not lose a single set to France, confirming their status as the main favorites in Kazan. However, the French athletes had many chances to win at least one set, but didn’t realize it.
“It was pretty hot today in Kazan, it wasn’t so easy to play,” Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova said. “Also, it was the first tournament game for our team, they may be unpredictable. We are glad to beat our old friends from Latvia. It will be interesting to play against Holland in the final. We want to please the fans here in Kazan and to win a ticket to Continental Cup Finals.”
The winner of the tournament will receive a ticket to the Final of the CEV Continental Cupnext year while teams ranked from second to fifth will continue to fight for an Olympic spot in the semifinal stage of the Continental Cup.