Ukolova prefers Anapa to prepare for the European Championships
“When the FIVB calendar for 2013 was approved we immediately decided not to go to Long Beach. The reason is not that we have our home tournament at the same time, it’s because next Tuesday the CEV European Championships in Klagenfurt start.”
For Ukolova and her partner Ekaterina Khomyakova this is one of the most important events of the year. Last year in The Hague they finished 9th and they are eager to improve themselves this time. Klagenfurt is also the venue where they won their first gold medal last year.
Travelling and jet lag
“Travelling a long way to Long Beach and performing on this high-class competition together with jet lag would diminish our chances for good results in Europe. We want to be in a good shape and have as good results in Austria as possible.”
It does not mean they will save their energy and lay low in Anapa. “Of course, some times I feel like that and many times I told myself: ‘Ok, I’ll play not my best volleyball now so that I can perform better on some other competition’.”
“But every time when I enter the court and start to fight, emotions and passion beat this rational intentions. So I just have to try to restore and rest after every match and always do my stretching after the games to stay in shape and keep my energy up.”
Russian Club Championships
The fact that Ukolova made it all the way to the final of the Russian Club Championships in Anapa last week with a foreign player she had never met before, USA’s Lane Carico, shows that she will always go for the gold.
“I've already played with girls from different countries. But that was with girls I knew well from the FIVB World tour. For example I won the event last year with Barbara Hansel from Austria. As for Lane, I didn't know her before this event, and even more – I couldn’t have known her, because as far as I know, she never played outside the US yet. I think this is only her second beach volleyball season.”
“The other problem was that we are both defenders and take the same position on the court. But good team work got us right to the final.” In the gold medal match Ukolova and Carico lost 2-1 to Maria Prokopeva and her foreign partner, Brazilian super star Juliana Felisberta da Silva.
“I was very upset after the final. You know – it is always sad to stop just one step behind the first prize. We played well but didn’t manage to make that last but major effort. We should have won that second set, but for the tiebreak we just had no more strength.”
“But to be honest, second place is a good result. Before the tournament I didn’t expect that we come this far.”
Ukolova and Khomyakova lead the field this week at the Anapa Open, the second of seven FIVB Open events this year. The Russian girls are still chasing their first FIVB medal of the season, after they won gold (Klagenfurt), silver (Bangsaen) and bronze (Aland) last year.
The women’s main draw pool play starts on Wednesday together with the men’s qualification tournament. The women’s medal matches are scheduled for Saturday, the men’s medal matches are played on Sunday.