FIVB Beach Volleyball U23 World Championship

Press release

Russian women delighted with ‘last chance’ ticket to Rio

Russia's Ekaterina Birlova, Nadezda Makroguzova, Evgenia Ukolova and Anastasia Barsouk

Sochi, Russia, July 10, 2016 – On home turf, at the FIVB World Continental Cup in Sochi, Russia grabbed their last chance to qualify a women’s team for the Rio Olympics. The Russian women defeated Austria 2-1 in the deciding country versus country match on Sunday and can now book a ticket to Copacabana Beach.

For the first time since 2008 Russia didn’t qualify through the World Tour ranking and didn’t make a good impression at the CEV Continental Cup final either where they were eliminated in the eighth finals. As the host country they were granted a ‘wild card’ for the FIVB World Continental Cup Olympic Qualifier.

For the ‘last chance’ tournament in Sochi the Russian coaches split up veterans Birlova and Ukolova, who finished ninth four years ago at the London Olympic Games. It turned out to be a refreshing move as the Russian women made it all the way to the final round.

In the all-deciding match against Austria Birlova and 19-year old Nadezda Makroguzova defeated Austrian youngsters Katharina Schützenhöfer and Lena Plesiutschnig 2-0 (21-17, 21-10) in the first game. The Russians hardly made any mistakes.

Young Makroguzova, who won silver at the U21 World Champs this year with Svetlana Kholomina, served strong throughout the whole match.

Birlova: “The main thing was to win, no matter what. We tried to do everything a 100 percent. Nadia played and served excellent, I just guided her with signs.”

As expected Ukolova and Anastasia Barsuk had a tougher match against Austria’s number one team, two-time Olympian Stefanie Schwaiger and her new partner Barbara Hansel.

The Russians won the first set and did have chances to win the second as they were leading by two or three points in the middle of the second set, but the Austrians came back from 14-16 to 19-16, won the second set and the tiebreak (15-21, 21-17, 15-12).

In the golden set Birlova and Ukolova were reunited again and left Austria’s Schwaiger and Hansel completely chanceless: 15-3.

“I came back for this”, said a teary-eyed Birlova, who retired in 2014 to give birth to a daughter, but started playing again in 2015. “The Olympics are the reason I came back out again.”

“Before this tournament there were a lot of pictures in my mind what it would be to win here, but I can tell you it’s totally different”, Ukolova added. “We had many tough moments in this process. We showed we are strong and now we are so happy.”

She said she was happy to play with Birlova again in the golden set. “It hasn’t been easy for us with this change of teams. We didn’t get a chance to talk, and I think now we have time to discuss our future.”

The Russian women don’t know yet who will go to Rio, the federation decides later. Birlova: “We made this big goal for our country. That makes us all happy. We missed many chances, but we did it. Now we will just wait.”

At the Rio Olympic Games Russia will complete pool A, which consists of Talita/Larissa (BRA), Brzostek/Kolosinska (POL) and Fendrick/Sweat (USA).

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

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