FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championship

Press release

Russia and Czech Republic complete women’s final four in Sochi

Marketa Slukova (right) and Barbora Hermannova won the golden set for the Czech Republic versus Vanuatu

Sochi, Russia, July 9, 2016 – Russia and the Czech Republic completed the women’s final four of the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification by winning the quarterfinals on Saturday. The Russians eliminated Ukraine 2-0, while the Czechs booked a 2-1 over Vanuatu.

With the support of the home crowd Ekaterina Birlova and Nadezda Makroguzova defeated Inna and Iryna Makhno 2-0 (24-22, 21,15) and Evgenia Ukolova and Anastasia Barsuk booked an easy 2-0 (21-13, 21-11) win over Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Schchypkova.

For the World Continental Cup the Russian coaches mixed up the teams, after an early exit at the CEV Continental Cup final. Slowly the new teammates are getting used to each other and are growing form, Ukolova said.

“I think with each game we feel a bit better. We didn’t play well in the CEV Continental Cup and we are so grateful we have another chance here in Sochi.” As the host country the Russian women got a ‘wild card’ for the World Qualifier, despite their poor performance at the CEV final.

Playing on home turf is fantastic, Ukolova continued. “It’s superfun to play in Sochi. There are a lot of people supporting us and there’s a great atmosphere on the centre court. And we can also really promote our sports here.”

What happens when they win the Olympic ticket on Sunday, the players don’t know. The coaches will decide who will get on the plane to Rio. Ukolova and Birlova are the only ones with Olympic experience since they competed at the 2012 London Olympic Games. They finished ninth after losing to China’s Chen Xue and her old partner Zhang Xi.

In the match for Olympic qualification the Russians face Austria. Ukolova: “They know us, we know them, so we will see. But I think if you play well, it doesn’t matter who is on the other side of the net. You have to focus on yourself and your own game.”

The Czech girls needed a golden set to advance to the semifinals, since Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova lost the second match to Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu (21-14, 21-15) after Marketa Slukova and Barbora Hermannova won the first against Loti Joe and Sherysyn Toko (21-10, 21-7).

In the golden set Slukova and Hermannova defeated Pata and Matauatu 15-7. Losing the golden set to China on Friday helped them prepare for this, said Slukova.

“We knew from yesterday that it’s over before you know it. It was important that we had had that experience, and that we knew we had to push it from the beginning. We pressured them on the service from the start and we made some important points in the beginning and that brought us some relieve.”

Hermannova added: “I think we all felt nerves, because it’s only fifteen points and it happened so fast. It’s a killer game, this golden set. I am happy we won it.”

If the Czech Republic wins the Olympic ticket in the match against China on Sunday the federation has already decided to send Slukova and Hermannova.

Slukova was at the Olympics before, in 2012 in London with her old partner Kolocova. They finished fifth after losing to silver medallists Jennifer Kessy and April Ross in the quarterfinals. If the time comes, Slukova, will tell Hermannova all about the Olympic experience. But for now they focus on qualifying.

“Right now I tell her that it doesn’t matter if we qualify or not, because we didn’t get together for the Rio Games in the first place”, she said. “But now we have a chance to fight for it, we will do it. And if we make it, we will talk about what is going to happen. Right now we are still far away, let’s just first qualify and then we will calm Barbora down.”

The line-up for the semifinals on Sunday:

09.05 Xue/XY Xia (CHN) – Kolocova/Kvapilova (CZE)
10.05 Chen Chunxia/Tang (CHN) – Slukova/Hermannova (CZE)
17.05 Birlova/Makroguzova (RUS) – Schützenhöfer/Plesiutschnig (AUT)
18.05 Ukolova/Barsuk (RUS) – Schwaiger/Hansel (AUT)

If needed a golden set will be played. The winners of the semifinals earn a ticket to the Olympic Games.

Quick links:
FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualification - Website
Men - Results/Schedule
Women - Results/Schedule

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