Larnaka, Cyprus, July 25, 2014 - Reigning U19 world champion Clemens Wickler is on track for another medal, but this time on a higher level; the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships. Although he is competing with a different partner and still has one pool match to go, the 19-year old German already secured first place in the pool on Friday.
Wickler and his new teammate Mirko Schneider booked two more wins on Friday to claim top position in pool F. They defeated France’s Thiercy/Di Giantommaso (21-10, 21-17) and Lithuania’s Rumsevicius/Kazdailis (23-25, 25-23, 15-12).
The match against the Lithuanians was of a high level, with great rallies and lots of suspense. This already started in the first part, when Arnas Rumsevicius and Lukas Kazdailis needed five set points to claim the first set.
The second set was point-by-point as well, with Germany struggling to enforce a tiebreak. They had to overcome three Lithuanian match points, to finally close the set on their second set point.
In the tiebreak the Lithuanians simply made too many unforced errors and with a cross-court shot Schneider claimed victory for Germany at their second match point.
“The Lithuanian guys played really well and with this wind it was not easy”, said Wickler afterwards. While the Germans were struggling with the wind, Rumsevicius and Kazdailis used low and quick sets to deal with the elements.
Wickler: “The strong wind was a factor that is not present in normal beach volleyball. We train maybe once a year with this wind, so we played our normal game with high sets. It’s not the best play in the wind, but it is not easy to switch into short sets, so we had to keep lifting it. We had to fight, but we did it and won the game, so we are happy.”
For Schneider this is his first FIVB event. “The level is very high”, he said. “In Germany the level on the tour is very high too, but there is a difference between the top teams and our level. And here the level is nearly the same.”
“It is definitely higher than in Porto last year”, Wickler reflected. He and Moritz Reichert claimed U19 gold by beating Norway’s Huus/Sorum in the final. “There are many more good teams here, so you have to fight against everyone.”
Winning the pool is no guarantee for a medal yet, Wickler said. “Of course we want to reach the quarterfinals and then we will see. This is our first tournament together, so we will see how we can do.”
Early qualification for Cypriot team
Cyprus’ number one team Minos Agathokleous and Kirill Rudenko secured a spot in the elimination phase early on Friday by defeating Niger’s Ibrahim/Abdoul Nasser 2-0 (21-13, 21-11).
They lost their evening match to Pestov/Gurin from Kazakhstan 2-1 (22-20, 19-21, 15-12), but two wins over Nigeria and Niger guaranteed a top four pool finish.
“We are really glad that we managed to qualify for the next round. Our qualification is basically a reward for our efforts and all the double trainings that we did every day”, said Agathokleous.
“We had to stay focused and kept our feet on the ground”, said Rudenko after the Niger match. “We had a great match but we made a few mistakes. But we managed to win and that counts at the end of the day.”
With six teams in each pool, only the top four qualify for the elimination phase. Pool winners qualify directly for the second elimination round. The last pool round matches are played on Saturday morning.
In pool E Norway’s Sorum/Mol and Russia’s Yarzutkin/Stoyanovskiy will play each other Saturday for top position. Both teams booked four wins so far.
The same goes for Norway’s Sannarnes/Berntsen and Kazakhstan’s Pestov/Gurin in pool A and Russian qualifiers Leshukov/Margiev and Dutch pair Bouter/Van de Velde in pool C.
Poland’s Bryl/Kujawiak and Brazil’s Andre/Vinicius already secured first place in their pools.