Ukolova/Prokopeva knock out fellow countrymen after unlucky pool match
Second seeded Ukolova and Prokopeva were upset by 15th seeded Vasiliki Arvaniti and Panagiota Karagkouni from Greece in the morning, losing 2-1 (19-21 21-17 16-14) in their third and final pool match. Instead of going straight to the second knockout round on Saturday they had to play a first round match on the same day.
That also meant they had to sent home their fellow countrymen Anna Gorbunova and Nadezda Makroguzova. “We knew upfront we would win, because the difference in level is big”, Ukolova said. “They are a very young team and it was their first FIVB event.”
Without having to make a huge effort Ukolova and Prokopeva won in two sets (21-14 21-18). Prokopeva: “This game was a good practice match for us after losing the game this morning. We know them well because we practice a lot together.”
“It was very unfortunate we lost this morning, we did not play well and made a lot of mistakes and this is the consequence”, Prokopeva said about eliminating the other Russian team. Ukolova: “It would have been better for them to play against another team, because they can play with us every day. So I think it was a bit unlucky we lost this morning.”
China's Xue and Xia next
In the next round the Russian pair, playing their fourth event together, will now meet the Phuket Open champions Chen Xue and Xinyin Xia. “I think it was a mistake to lose to Greece”, said Ukolova. “Otherwise we would not have met the Chinese until the semifinal. But we will try our best.”
With her former partner, Ekaterina Khomyakova, Ukolova won the gold in Anapa this year and Prokopeva bronze with hers. After Khomyakova got pregnant and Prokopeva’s teammate also quit, they teamed up together. A first medal would be more than welcome, but is not their main goal.
“It’s the last event of this year, so the main thing is we want to finish with a positive energy”, Ukolova said. “It does not matter how we finish with the score, it’s more the feeling inside. I think if you lose this next game, it does not matter if there is also something good from our side, it will be a good step towards the next season. So for us it’s important hów we play tomorrow.”
Like Russia, Brazil also had an unfortunate draw. Youngsters Thais Rodrigues Ferreira (22) and Eduarda Santos Lisboa (15), who topped their pool on Friday, will meet their older compatriots Fernanda Alves and Elize Secomandi Maia in the second round.