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Russia triumphant with double gold at U22 European Championship

The Russian teams and staff members celebrate together after hearing their national anthem twice
Baden, Austria, June 19, 2017 – Russia struck double gold at the 2017 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship as both their men’s and the women’s duos kept up their winning streaks all the way through the final matches at the Strandbad Baden in Lower Austria.

On the last competition day in the women’s tournament, Svetlana Kholomina and Nadezda Makroguzova first had to survive a first-set scare in their semifinal against Switzerland’s Dunja Gerson and Esmee Bobner. The Swiss team started the match really well and won the first set, but the Russians kept their cool and managed to turn the course of the game to the eventual 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-8) victory.

Their opponents in the final emerged from by far the most interesting match of the day, the other semifinal between Romania’s Adriana-Maria Matei and Beata Vaida and Germany’s Lisa Arnholdt and Leonie Welsch. The Romanians could not hold on to an early eight-point advantage to lose the first set dramatically by 29-31. In the second set they stayed in control to reach the tie-breaker. Once again, the Germans managed to erase the solid advantage that Matei and Vaida had at the beginning to prompt a long and exciting ending. Finally, the Romanian team celebrated victorious after 2-1 (29-31, 21-16, 22-20).

Romania's Beata Vaida dives for the ball

The third place match and the final were way more straightforward. Kholomina and Makroguzova functioned like a well-tuned machine to cruise to the title with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) win against Matei and Vaida.

The Germans completed the podium after a 2-0 (21-18, 21-12) victory over the Swiss in the bronze medal match.

The women's podium

For Kholomina and Makroguzova this is the first under-age European Championship gold and second medal after their U20 bronze from Larnaka 2015 as a team. In 2016 the pair won silver at the FIVB U21 World Championship in Lucerne. Makroguzova also has a U19 World Championship silver with Anna Gorbunova from Porto 2013 and a U18 European Championship title with Daria Rudykh from Molodechno 2013.

“This was an easy game for us, because we have been training for this competition. We had very good blocking and managed to win,” Nadezda Makroguzova said after the final. “Baden is a very nice city. The people are nice and smiling. I am happy to be here.”

The men’s final was the icing on the cake. Two very strong teams faced each other in a titanic clash and after 43 minutes and three sets of fantastic Beach Volleyball left the completely packed stands around centre court wanting more.

In the first semifinal earlier on Sunday, Norway’s Mathias Berntsen and Anders Berntsen Mol showed their class for a 2-0 (21-18, 21-7) win against France’s Arnaud Loiseau and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat. After that, the noisy Austrian crowd tried to inspire their home favourites Moritz Pristauz and Paul Buchegger for a victory against Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin, but the Russians were way too powerful – 2-0 (21-18, 21-14).

Pristauz and Buchegger managed to thank their fans with a hard-fought 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) victory over Loiseau and Gauthier-Rat in the third place match and the bronze medals.

Norway's Anders Berntsen Mol spikes against Russia's Oleg Stoyanovkiy's block

And then it was time for the big show. The Norwegian cousins played an incredible first set and looked like they are well on their way to the title. But the Russians did not seem to think so. They came back to win the second set to tie the match. The ecstatic crowd was up for a treat as the out-of-this-world rallies continued in the tie-breaker. Bernsten and Mol reached double match point at 14-12, but Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin fought back to level it at 14-14. The Norwegians had one more match point, but failed to convert it. However, the Russians succeeded in converting their first match point to stamp a well-deserved 2-1 (14-21, 21-17, 17-15) victory and celebrate with the gold medals.

The men's podium

For Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin this is the second under-age European Championship title after they triumphed as U18 champs at Molodechno 2013. In addition, the two Russian talents became gold medallists at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Since 2014 Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin have been appearing on the FIVB World Tour, with their best finish so far a 2016 Kish Island Open silver.

“This is a great feeling! It is our second time as European champions and that is very nice! The final was a very hard match, because the guys from Norway are really strong. We managed to defeat them and we are very happy. Our semifinal against the Austrian team was pretty much a tough game too. We were a little bit better at blocking and at defence and that was the key to our win.”

For more details on the U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship visit the competition pages on the CEV website.

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