Lithuania's Ieva Dumbauskaite puts the ball away against Brazil's Taina Silva Bigi
Larnaka, Cyprus, July 26, 2014 – Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte eliminated U19 world champions Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Taina Silva Bigi on Saturday to reach the quarterfinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships.
The Lithuanian girls defeated the strong Brazilian pair 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) in the second knockout round. In the morning Dumbauskaite and Povilaityte had topped the pool with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-10) win over Russia and thereby earned a bye in the first round.
Brazil came in second in the pool after losing to the Austrian Strauss-twins (23-21, 21-18), and reached the second round with a win (21-11, 21-18) over Paraguay’s Michelle/Erika.
“When I saw the draw against Brazil I was upset, we had some negative emotions”, said Dumbauskaite. “But we talked a lot with our coaches. They told us to calm down and just play like we train every day and that worked.”
Eduarda (15) and Taina (18) were not in the best of form and were trailing most of the match. The Lithuanians on the other hand were focussed and played stable. At their first match point Povilaityte put an end to the game with a smart cross-court attack.
“It feels very good to have won this match”, Dumbauskaite said, “because we did not have strong opponents in the tournament so far. Russia in the morning, but they were sick, so it was our first normal and stressful game.”
The 19-year old pair from Vilnius won a gold medal at the U19 two years ago in Larnaka and would like to win another. “Quarterfinals is not enough. We want to play in the semifinals and the final. This is not enough for us.”
USA also ready to go for more
Another team that will not be satisfied with a quarterfinal finish, is USA’s Kelly Claes/Sara Hughes. Like the Lithuanians they did not lose a set yet. After winning their final pool match against home team Konstantopoulou/Leonidou (21-11, 21-11), they faced Italy’s Agata Zuccarelli and Monica Lestini in the second knockout round.
The Americans, who won bronze at the U19 last year, won the first set easily, but were pushed by the hotheaded Italians in the second. Zuccarelli and Lestini even took a lead on a few occasions, but served out at the most crucial moment, at 19-19. Right after that Claes finished the match with a big block (21-15, 21-19).
“Italy is a great team. We kept siding-out, but then they got a few points on us”, said Hughes. “You can’t give them anything, cause they will take advantage of if. They were swinging hard. Luckily Kelly blocked those last two. Not luckily, she knew she was gonna get up there. It was a good win for us.”
Especially in the second set there was lots of shouting and emotions on the Italian side. Claes and Hughes did not let that distract them. “We just thought we should play our own game, stick with each other”, Claes said.
“We tried to focus on our side”, Hughes added. “We could hear their coach yelling at them, but we controlled what we could control on our side.”
It was not the first time this week they were pushed by their opponents. “We played China in our very first pool match and that was a great team”, Hughes said. “Two very tall girls that can put the ball away.”
“But I would say this was probably our first fast pace match, because Italy was passing really low and setting low and hitting pretty fast. So it was definitely one of our first high intense matches.”
Both girls can’t wait to move on to medal match day. “I am excited”, Claes said. “There is a lot of really good competition out there and we want to win and we are gonna go for it. I am ready to go.”
The women’s quarterfinals start at 11.00 on Sunday on four courts. The line-up is: Hughes/Claes (USA) – Dabizha/Gorbunova (RUS), Dumbauskaite/Povilaityte (LTU) – Sulima/Udovenko (UKR), Strauss/Strauss (AUT) – Betschart/Eiholzer (SUI), Kociolek/Gruszscynska (POL) – Bukovic/Miric (CAN).