Review 2013 – Double gold for Europe in U23 Beach Volleyball Worlds
The U23 World Championships were set up as one last bridge between age-group levels and the World Tour and it came as little surprise that the two gold medal-winning teams were duos who had already appeared on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
The men’s title went to local favourites Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, who added U23 World Championship gold to their FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championship crown in 2012 and the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championship gold they won in 2010.
Germany’s Victoria Bieneck and Isabell Schneider powered their way to gold in an equally competitive female field to once again underline Germany’s growing strength.
Thirty-two teams per gender took part in the tournament, including teams from developing countries such as St. Lucia, Kenya and Rwanda.
Kantor and Losiak were the dominant team throughout the tournament and were firm favourites for the local crowd, who filled the centre court whenever they stepped onto the sand. The Poles were pushed hard by Austrian duo Lorenz Petutschnig and Tobias Winter in the semifinals, but recovered from the three-set match to win in straight sets (21-16, 21-17) against Brazil’s Vitor Felipe and Marcio Guadie Ley.
“Of course we are very happy,” Kantor said. “We want to thank our supporters because today we had a full house. We thought we would play the Russian and Austrian teams at some point in the tournament and luckily we beat them to reach the final. In the final we played a very hard opponent in Brazil, but we managed to win and I am very proud of that.”
For Brazil’s Vitor Felipe the silver completed a disappointing hat trick that included silver medals from the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in 2009 and 2010. However, he was another player with World Tour experience and by the season’s end he had two gold medals to his name, from the Berlin and Xiamen Grand Slams.
Petutschnig and Winter recovered from their semifinal exertions to win the bronze medal with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) victory over Latvia’s Rihards Finsters and Aleksandrs Solovejs.
Bieneck and Schneider were pushed hard by Brazil duo Eduarda Santos Lisbao and Thais Rodrigues Ferreira in the women’s final. Although the Brazilians won the first set, Bieneck and Schneider dug in and won 2-1 (19-21, 21-12, 15-13). The fourth seeds had gone about reaching the final in a quiet and understated way, but stayed strong when it truly mattered.
“I think that wasn’t our best game, but it was a final and everybody wants to win,” Bieneck said. “It was a long tournament and we are feeling it in our legs, but of course we are happy that we won.”
“The first set, we didn’t play as well as we could and I knew that if we improved we could win,” Schneider added. “We came back after we tried some new ideas. The tie-break then is just a fight.”
At 14, Santos Lisbao was the youngest player in the tournament. But alongside the 22-year-old Rodrigues Ferreira signalled her potential that later in the year brought her victory in the FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships.
Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke won the bronze medal with a 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 16-14) victory over the Czech Republic’s Eliska Galova and Adela Machova.
It was a remarkable victory for the duo, who were playing in their first tournament together and spend most of the year apart due to their studies.
“It was a really, really good game and they played really, really well and we played really, really well and it came down to withstanding the pressure and the heat,” Humana-Paredes said.