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Brazil’s Andre and Vinicius take lead in tough pool at U21 World Championships

Brazil's Andre Loyola Stein (photo) and Vinicius Rezende Costa Freitas booked two straight wins in one of the toughest U21 pools
Larnaka, Cyprus, July 24, 2014 - Brazil’s Andre Loyola Stein and Vinicius Rezende Costa Freitas put their mark down with two straight wins on the first day of main draw at the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships in Larnaka.

The two 19-year olds defeated Mexico’s Jurado/Cardenas 2-0 (24-22, 21-18) in the morning, and booked another 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) win over American qualifiers Hagen Smith/Orenic in one of the strongest men’s pools in Larnaka.

“It was a tough match”, 2,01m tall Andre said about the Brazil vs. USA showdown. “Like us USA has a tradition in beach volleyball. They know how to play. But fortunately we played better than in this morning.”

The U21 event is their first adventure abroad. The Brazilians are 2nd seeded but are facing some tough opponents and it’s too early for any predictions, Vinicius said.

“We still have to beat the Latvians, and Spain and Australia are good teams too”, he said. “And we are still not used to the weather, we don’t have this in Brazil. It’s much hotter here and dry.”

“The level here is very high”, added Andre. “But this is what we have been preparing for.”

Traditionally Brazil has a broad selection of talented players and it’s hard for the young guns to break through. “It’s difficult”, Vinicius said. “The level of the Brazilian selection is high and it comes with a lot of responsibilities.”

Dark horses might come from Spain

In the same pool Spanish team Adrian Valles Rubio and Oscar Prades Carnicer proved to be fearsome contenders as well, defeating two higher ranked teams in their first ever FIVB event.

The 23rd seeded Spanish booked a 2-1 (13-21, 21-14, 15-12) win over Australia’s Dickson/Murch (14th) and a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) win over Latvia’s Lancmanis/Smirnovs (11th).

“We had a good day with two wins, but we are not happy with the way we played”, said Prades. “We have not been very consistent in both matches.” “It was very difficult, but we are proud that we beat two better ranked teams”, added Valles.

Although it was only two sets, the match against the Latvians felt the toughest, he said. “We were more in the game than this morning. Maybe because we were more focussed, we felt more tired after this one.”

The Spaniards, both not that tall, showed some excellent block-defence against the bigger Latvians. “I was just telling them this morning that they are one of the best teams in block-defence”, commented their coach and former Olympic beach volleyball player Raul Mesa. “But also one of the worst in side-out.”

“That’s one thing they need to work on”, Mesa continued. “They did not feel comfortable with side-out all. Maybe because of the wind, maybe because they are not used to playing against these kind of teams. I think this is one of the toughest pools in the tournament. So after seeing the draw yesterday, our first goal is to be in the next round.”

Meanwhile Valles and Prades are having the time of their life in their first FIVB age group event. “I really like to play on centre court, that was great this morning”, Valles said and Prades added: “We really want to improve, to live the experience and to pass the pool would be a great step.”

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