Norway’s and Belgium’s women through to Continental Cup third round
The Scandinavians won their final match with Belgium by scoring two consecutive victories thereby progressing straight to the third round of the competition coming up next year.
The same applies to the runner-ups from Belgium, while Slovenia, Scotland and Northern Ireland – who settled for third, fourth and fifth place – will re-start their campaign via the second stage of the competition scheduled for August and September this year.
Norway v Slovenia 2-0
Norway and Slovenia opened the programme on Sunday with a much anticipated semifinal clash. Norway’s top team, Janne Kongshavn and Victoria Faye Kjølberg, easily edged Slovenia’s second duo, Ana Skarlovnik and Jelena Pesic, with a double 21-11.
After that, Janne Pedersen and Cindy Treland routed Sara Sakovic/Kaja Turk by 21-14, 21-17, thereby claiming a ticket to the final and avenging the defeat that Norway had suffered back in 2010 at the Sub Zonal phase event held in Zrece, Slovenia.
"We did our best today and even though it was not enough to upset the Norwegian team, we still can be satisfied with our performance," Kaja Turk said. "We will be working very hard this summer and I feel like we can improve our game and make it to the next level. Let’s hope that the second round won’t mark our last appearance in this edition of the Continental Cup."
Belgium v Scotland 2-0
Belgium claimed the second spot in the final after beating Scotland. Katrien Gielen and Marta Sobolska cashed Belgium’s first victory by seeing off Lynne Beattie and Gillian Lyall by 21-13, 21-14. Fien Callens and Maud Catry continued Belgium’s winning run claiming the first set (21-16) of their match with 2012 Olympian Shauna Mullin and partner Anneka Hastings, but then suffered a setback in the second which the Scots won by 21-18. Still the Belgians got back control of the game in the third which they dominated cruising to a terrific 15-4.
Norway v Belgium 2-0
Janne Kongshavn and Victoria Faye Kjølberg probably did not think they would find that much resistance in their match with Callens and Catry. The Belgians even had a set ball but did not capitalise on that opportunity, losing the first set by 22-24. They started off very strong also in the second leading the way by 10-7 and 11-8, but good serving by Kongshavn propelled Norway’s strong comeback. They slowly but surely cut their deficit and eventually won the set (21-17) and the match.
Gielen and Sobolska tried to force a golden set but in the end they lost in straight sets (19-21, 19-21) to Pedersen and Treland. In this way, Norway finished top of the charts with Belgium following in second place.
"We are very happy with our second place. We did not know what to expect from the other teams but we were sure we would have had to play every match at our best in order to score a victory," Fien Callens said. "Making the third round of the Continental Cup is a great thing for our country."
The Belgians will be making their next appearance in 2015 and Callens hopes she will be a member of the team again: "In Belgium players are nominated according to the results of our national qualifying events and therefore it is still too early to know what happens next. I only know that my partner and I have to train, train, and train."