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Life is good, but…

Ilka Semmler (black top) competes at the net Wednesday against a Kazakhstan rival

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 16, 2014 - Up until last week, the Beach Volleyball “life” for Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler was an emotional roller coaster as the London 2012 Olympians struggled to find their rhythm on the sand.

But their Beach Volleyball “life” changed drastically this past Sunday in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad where the German girls captured a FIVB World Tour gold medal for the second time in their international careers to “end weeks of frustration,” said Semmler.

“Physically, we were fine,” said Semmler after her team’s 2-0 win (21-15 and 21-17) over 25th-seeded Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan in 33 minutes in an opening women’s pool play match on Scheveningen beach in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.

“Mentally, we were not in the game,” the 28-year old Semmler added.  “We fought with ourselves.  We fought to execute the basic skills of the sport.  We were playing hard, but just couldn’t gain a consistent focus with our game.”

Last week did not start well for Holtwick and Semmler as they advanced from the Gstaad pool play with a 1-2 mark.  But, “life” changed on the weekend for the Germans as they won their last five matches highlighted by 2-0 (24-22 and 21-16) win over compatriots Karla Borger and Britta Buthe in the gold medal match.  It was the first-ever women’s FIVB World Tour gold medal match between two German teams.

“It was great to win the gold medal, especially a Grand Slam gold medal,” Semmler added.  “But, we really did not like defeating our friends and training partner.  Happy on one hand, sad on the other.  But we needed to play good and finish well in Gstaad.”

Holtwick and Semmler started the season by posting a Grand Slam 17th in Shanghai before claiming an “Open” silver medal in Prague.  Then, the Germans sank to back-to-back 25ths at the Moscow and Berlin Grand Slam.  Prior to Switzerland, Holtwick and Semmler regained “some confidence” by placing ninth in the Stavanger Grand Slam.

“Prior to last week, we lacked confidence on the court,” Semmler offered.  “If you don’t have confidence in your game, your partner and your abilities, you will struggle.  The mental focus is so important since there are a lot of great players and teams on the world tour.  Every match is tough and you really need to be focused.”

Semmler and the rest of the international Beach Volleyball players competing on the Scheveningen “loved the weather conditions Wednesday.  What a great day to be playing.  It is a beautiful site and court set up is tremendous.  Hopefully, we’ll be playing more matches here on the weekend.”

The eighth-seeded Holtwick and Semmler play two more pool play matches starting with a Wednesday afternoon meeting with 24th-seeded Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska of Poland and an early Thursday afternoon match with ninth-seeded Fan Wang and Yuan Yue of China.  The top three teams advance to Friday’s opening elimination rounds with the top tandem in the group earning a first-round “bye”.

The 10th event on the women’s international circuit, Transavia Grand Slam concludes with the medal matches Sunday as the final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.  In addition to competition at The Hague Beach Stadium, men’s and women’s pool play matches are also being played in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn on Wednesday and Thursday.

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