Only German and Russian teams in men’s final four in Anapa
Top seeded Russians Konstantin Semenov and Yaroslav Koshkarev will play Germany’s new team Eric Koreng and Finn Dittelbach at 10.00 on Sunday and in the other semifinal Russian qualifiers Alexey Pastukhov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov are up against another new team from Germany, Lars Flüggen and Alexander Walkenhorst.
Pool winners Semenov and Koshkarev had a 2-0 (21-18 21-13) win over Austria’s Christoph Dressler and Tobias Winter in their first knockout match on Saturday, but faced a tougher opponent in Brazil’s Thiago Santos Barbosa and Oscar Brandao.
The Brazilians, new partners and playing their first FIVB event, were very successful avoiding Semenov’s big block in the first set by moving the setting around a lot.
Russia was the first to reach a set point though, after Koshkarev hit an ace, but it was Brazil who took the set after Koshkarev hit in the block and out.
Brazilian power volleyball
“The Brazilian guys play this power volleyball. That is not our style, but we let them draw us into this game”, Koshkarev said.
“So at the end of the first set I tried to spike very hard and made two silly mistakes. We just had to stick to our own game, but we didn’t.”
In the second set the Russians came back strong and enforced a tiebreak to win 2-1 (20-22 21-11 15-11) after all.
“I can’t say it was a very difficult road to the semis”, Koshkarev said looking back on the tournament. “The only problem I have now is my health. For the third day in a row I have a temperature. Let’s hope it does not keep us from winning the next two games.”
First FIVB event for Flüggen
While Semenov and Koshkarev already played a final four before – they won a bronze medal in The Hague in 2011 – Germany’s semifinalist Lars Flüggen had never even played in a FIVB event before.
He just teamed up with Alexander Walkenhorst a few weeks ago, but this is already their third semifinal in three events, the first two CEV tournaments in Lausanne and Novi Sad.
In their quarterfinal they beat 5th seeded Ukraine’s Sergiy Popov and Valeriy Samoday 2-0 (24-22 21-18).
“I am very happy I am in the semifinal”, Flüggen said. “I didn’t expect this. That we would reach the semifinal in such a short time together. It’s awesome.”
Flüggen and Walkenhorst, who recently ended his short partnership with other semifinalist Koreng, have known each other for years.
“When we were younger, we played together indoor. So we now each other very well, the chemistry is good. I know how to handle him and he knows how to handle me, so that’s good.”
“He is not an easy player to play with, you know, sometimes he is a little bit loud. I try to be the calm one.”
Good tactics was the key to winning their match against Ukraine, Flüggen said. “The block player is very fast. We were not able to go over him. So we targeted the defence player, he plays a lot of shots and that is what we focussed on. Try to dig the shots from the defence player.”
Flüggen thinks they have a good chance in the semis against Russia’s Pastukhov and Krasilnikov.
“We lost against them in the first game in the pool, 2-1. But it did not have to be 2-1, it should have been 2-0. We already won, but the referee did not agree on the point. So it was 20-20 instead of 21-19 and we lost the tiebreak too. So we will try to do better tomorrow.”