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Czechs battle through adversities for Vienna gold

Vienna, Austria, August 4, 2018 – After the first minutes of the gold medal match of the A1 Major Vienna presented by Swatch, it looked like Czech Republic’s Marketa Sluková and Barbora Hermannová would have to wait a little longer for their first-ever title in a FIVB World Tour five-star event.

However, the 21-10 setback to Brazilians Barbara Seixas and Fernanda Berti in the first set didn’t let the Czech down as they bounced back to post a 2-1 victory and top the podium at the Danube Island. 

“It’s definitely the biggest victory of our careers,” an excited Sluková said after the match. “It’s so amazing to play in front of such a country and bring the gold medal home, especially after how the game started. We started so badly. 

“We couldn’t find each other in setting and really didn’t have counter attacks. We thought we were really embarrassing ourselves and this definitely wasn’t the way we wanted to end the tournament. We had our problems but we really stuck together and that’s what I’m most proud of.”

But the below-average start wasn’t the problem the Czech faced in the packed Red Bull Beach Arena. With Sluková sustaining a right shoulder injury during the entire tournament, the Europeans had to battle in secret through her unapparent limitations in each of their games in the Austrian capital.   

“She had really intense pain on her shoulder and we didn’t even know if we would be able to play this tournament,” Hermannová commented. But in the court, she was just hitting bombs, digging the ball and I’m very proud of what she did and how she managed to keep her condition unapparent. She made so much for our team and I wanted to say out loud how proud I am of her.”

Barbara and Fernanda also left the Danube Island satisfied, though. The Brazilians, who were playing in just their second five-star event this season and won the Fort Lauderdale Major in March, regretted the turnaround in the gold medal match, but acknowledged what was a positive week in Vienna.

“We are a little bit frustrated because we started the match so well,” Barbara explained. “But they were more patient than us and that made a difference for them. We needed a good result here and the silver medal is good for us. We made it to the final and gave everything we had left, so we’re proud of what we did here.”

It was also a special week for Dutch Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer, who started their partnership this year and celebrated their first medal in a five-star event two weeks after they claimed the European title as they defeated Brazilians Carolina Solberg and Maria Elisa Antonelli in the bronze medal match.

“It’s very special,” Keizer commented. “I was at my first Major this year in Fort Lauderdale and it was great to get to the podium here. Every medal is special, but this one is a little more special.” 

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