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Poland’s Bryl/Kujawiak cruise into last eight at the U21 with straight wins only

Poland's Michal Bryl (left) and Kacper Kujawiak hit top form in Larnaka
Larnaka, Cyprus, July 26, 2014 - Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak cruised their way into the quarterfinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships on Saturday. The Polish youngsters are hitting top form this week and have not lost a set yet.

Bryl and Kujawiak claimed top position in their pool already on Friday after four matches and won their final pool match on Saturday 2-0 (21-11, 21-12) against USA’s Clemens/Bantle.

In the second elimination round they also overpowered Arnas Rumsevicius and Lukas Kazdailis from Lithuania (21-12, 21-12) with solid block-defence and aggressive play.

“We played good volleyball, but not perfect”, Kujawiak said. “With this wind it’s very hard to play perfect. But we were lucky. For now.”

What really made the difference against Lithuania was Bryl’s big block. Kujawiak: “He is very tall. He jumps high. He knows all the players and how to block them. We trained on Michal’s block a lot towards this tournament.”

“We are in the best form possible now”, he continued. “Because we have been training all year for this event. We think we can play for a medal. We both know we can do it. So we will give it a try.”

The Polish pair won silver at the CEV U20 last year and two years ago grabbed the gold in the Larnaka U19 final against compatriots Kaczmarek/Kaczmarek. “We like to play here”, said Kujawiak. “I don’t know, maybe this is our lucky place. Maybe we can do the same as two years ago.”

But first they will have to set aside Germany’s Wickler/Schneider in the quarterfinal. Kujawiak: “We know this team, because Wickler is the U19 champion from last year in Porto. We will be prepared for this match.”

France surprise quarterfinalist

The outsiders in the final eight are definitely 19-year old Maxime Thiercy and 20-year old Romain Di Giantommaso from France. Di Giantommaso has no previous FIVB experience, Thiercy entered the U21 with Alexis Gras in 2013, but did not even get into the main draw.

The Frenchies finished second in their pool with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-11) win over Poland’s Wierzbicki/Lysikowski, got a bye in the first knockout round and then beat lucky losers Niklas Rudolf and Max Betzien from Germany in a tight three-setter (21-15, 19-21,16-14).

“We knew beforehand that the match was going to be very close”, Thiercy said. “We were more concentrated at the crucial points of the final set, and that gave us the all-important win in the end.”

“The high wind was the biggest problem for us, but the wind-problem was for both teams”, Thiercy concluded.

The men’s quarterfinals start at 10.00 on Sunday morning. The line-up is: Bryl/Kujawiak (POL) – Wickler/Schneider (GER), Sannarnes/Berntsen (NOR) – Thiercy/Di Giantommaso (FRA), Yarzutkin/Stoyanovskiy (RUS) – Leshukov/Margiev (RUS), Sorum/Mol (NOR) – Andre/Vinicius (BRA).

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