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Bright future for Norwegian cousins

Mathias Berntsen (left) of Norway blocks against Artem Yarzutkin of Russia in a Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics Beach Volleyball match Monday.

Nanjing, China, August 18, 2014 - Anders Berntsen Mol and Mathias Berntsen failed to grab the “big score” here Monday afternoon in a men’s Beach Volleyball pool play match at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympics.

But, the Norwegian cousins still have “confidence” despite losing their second Pool E match to the highly-regarded Russian twosome of Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin at the Beach Volleyball venue in the Nanjing Sports Park Complex.

“Our story is very good,” said the 18-year old Berntsen, “but it was rather disappointing today.”  Despite losing 2-0 (21-19 and 21-16) in 32 minutes to Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin, the Norwegians remain positive.

“We lost to a very good team today, but we felt we did some good things today,” said Berntsen.  “Our tempo was good, but we make some mistakes at key times in the match that hurt our chances.”

With their goal to finish pool play with a 4-1 match mark to earn an opportunity for a first-round bye in 24-team elimination bracket that starts Sunday, the Norwegians conclude group competition against teams from Burundi, Sri Lanka and Paraguay.  The Sri Lanka team of Chamika Mallawa and Isuru Siddihaluge are tied with the Russians at the top of Pool E with a 2-0 record.  Paraguay and the Norwegians are tied for third at 1-1 while Burundi and Guatemala have lost both of their pool play matches.

The self-confidence reflected a good psychological quality which was gained through practicing and preparing for each game.  The cousins are from Volleyball families and played together earlier this summer in a FIVB Grand Slam event in Norway where Berntsen and Mol placed 25th in the Stavanger tournament.

“I have benefited from having a very supportive family and my father is our coach,” said the 17-year old Mol.  The senior Mol (Kåre) has coached many of Norway’s greatest Beach Volleyball players, including Olympians Vegard Hoidalen and Jorre Kjemperud.  

With a majority of the 144 players from 52 national organizing committees entered in the first-ever Beach Volleyball competition at the Youth Olympics are playing internationally for the first-time in 2014, Mol and Berntsen are two players that consistently use the “hand-setting” skills.

As one international official said during their match with Russia, “you very rarely see a young play set the Mikasa with their hands.  Over 95 percent of the sets are bumped.  The Norwegians have perfected the hand set at a very early age.”

The Youth Olympic experience is important for the cousins that strive to represent Norway at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.  “That is our goal,” said Mol after the match.  “We are still very young and have a lot to learn.  The key is not to get frustrated and learn from our mistakes.  We are confident about our future, but we must work hard to achieve our goal of playing for an Olympic berth in 2020.” 

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