Lithuanian girls to clash with Canada for the gold medal in Larnaka
The 19-year old Lithuanians defeated USA’s top team Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes in three sets (21-19, 24-22, 15-7) in the semifinal Sunday afternoon.
Claes and Hughes, last year’s silver medallists at the U19 World Championships, struggled to push the match into a tiebreak after losing the first set. On their 4th set point they finally enforced a third set.
The Lithuanians then regrouped and jumped to 14-6 in no time. Povilaityte showed excellent defence and smart play with long shots over Claes’ big block. She also scored the winning point at their second match point.
“I still can’t believe we are in the final, because it was so surreal, it felt like a training match, boom, boom, boom”, Dumbauskaite said. “But they came back and in the third set, we just said ‘calm down, calm down, easy, easy’ and it worked.”
Two years ago the Lithuanians played their first ever final at the U19 in Larnaka, where they defeated Poland’s Karolina Baran and Katarzyna Kociolek.
“It’s amazing, finally we are in a final again”, said Dumbauskaite. “Because last season was not very good for us, we had 5th place, 4th place and that was really difficult. It was really hard mentally. So I am so happy to be here again. Second time and second final and I hope we will win again.”
First final for Canada
Bukovec and Miric will play their first FIVB final, after finishing 9th at the U19 last year and the U23 this year. The Canadians defeated Swiss pair Nina Betschart and Nicole Eiholzer in two close sets: 23-21, 25-23.
Switzerland had four opportunities to take the match into a tiebreak, but Bukovec and Miric kept holding them off. On their second match point, after a long rally, Miric scored the deciding point.
“It’s so exciting”, Miric said. “It feels so good, I can’t believe that we are here. We just worked so hard and everything paid of.”
“It was very stressful, so mental”, Miric said about the close ends. “But something Sophie and I have been working on is staying consistent throughout the match, always working for every point, play hard and being in the game all the time. We have improved so much mentally in the past few years. It’s nice to see it finally paid off.”
Miric just turned 17 and is the youngest finalist on Sunday, but she was close to the podium place in Larnaka before. In 2012 she finished 5th at the U19 in Cyprus with Alexandra Woolley.
“We have been here a few times. I feel now we are kind of used to it. We trained so hard for this, so I am not that surprised that we are in the final. I am just so happy.”
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