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Dutch lucky losers reach men’s final four in Porto

Lucky losers Tom van Steenis (left) and Jasper Bouter came a long way to reach the final four
Porto, Portugal, August 2, 2014 - Jasper Bouter and Tom van Steenis reached the final four of the FIVB U19 World Championships on Saturday with two wins over Poland’s Lysikowski/Jetke (21-15, 21-19) and Austria’s Kratz/Pristauz-Telsnigg (22-20, 18-21, 15-13).

The Dutch boys came a long way. They lost in qualification, entered main draw as lucky losers, barely made it to the elimination phase as 4th in the pool, but really grew to their potential in the elimination phase.

“We really developed well during the tournament”, said 17-year old Bouter. “We had to get used to each other, we talked a lot together and with the coach.”

Bouter and Van Steenis played only one event together in Holland before they came to Porto. “And this only our first beach volleyball season”, said Van Steenis. “I left indoors to fully commit to beach volleyball. And now semifinal, I could not have dreamed any better.”

In Saturday’s deciding quarterfinal against Austria, the teams split one set each. The tiebreak was close, with the Netherlands and Austria constantly alternating taking the lead. From 10-10 the Dutch took a deciding two-point lead and at their second match point Bouter scored the winning point.

“They played a stable game”, said Bouter about the Austrians. “They served on me, and it was the first time in the tournament that I had to deal with side-out. That was difficult.”

“Yesterday we played Brazil, who were hard hitters and Tom played a great match at the net. The Austrians cut a lot more, so now it was my job to shine.”

“In the tiebreak we took a two-point lead and they were not able to come back”, he continued. “So actually a mistake from them and a dig from us really made the difference in the end.”

In the semifinal they will face Ukraine’s Illia Kovalov and Oleh Plotnytskyi, who defeated Germany’s Thole/Göbert (21-16, 21-10) and Latvia’s Pavels/Kliemans (21-14, 21-12) to reach the final four.

“At this moment it does not matter who is on the other side of the net”, Van Steenis said about their next match. “We are feeling great.”

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