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Austria’s Schützenhöfer leads her partner into the top 16 of the Prague Open

 
Austria's Lena Plesiutschnig (left) and Katharina Schützenhöfer made it to the last 16
 
Prague, Czech Republic, May 23, 2014 – Austria’s Katharina Schützenhöfer and Lena Plesiutschnig made it to the last 16 at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Prague Open on Friday. It was the first time in their short World Tour career the young pair made it to the second elimination round.

After finishing third in pool D the 20-year old Austrians defeated Takemi Nishibori and Sayaka Mizoe in two sets (21-19, 21-13) on one of the outside courts at Stvanice Island.

Plesiutschnig and Schützenhöfer have been playing together since 2010. They won silver at the Youth World Championships and gold at the CEV U20 in 2011 and bronze at the FIVB U21 last year.

While Plesiutschnig made her debut on the World Tour at the Durban Open last December, Schützenhöfer was asked to play some grand slams with veteran Barbara Hansel in 2013, which resulted in 9th place at some events.

“But with Lena this is now our best result too”, defence player Schützenhöfer said. So far they had reached 17th place in Durban, 25th in Fuzhou and 33rd in Shanghai.

Thunderstorms

“It’s really great and it was so much fun to play today.” When the Austrians warmed up for their first round match, thunderstorms hit Prague and the matches were suspended for almost an hour.

“But afterwards it was perfect to play”, said Plesiutschnig. “No wind and not as hot as yesterday and the sand was hard so we could really jump”, added her partner.

The Austrians took a four-point lead in the first set, but lost concentration and the Japanese levelled at 17-17. Some smart tactical shots brought them back in the game as they claimed the first set 21-19.

In the second part the Austrian team created a big gap leaping from 11-9 to 14-9 with solid play and good positioning. On their first match point Plesiutschnig finished the game with a kill block.

“We were really focussed on getting in the top ten”, she said. “We focussed on our tactic like our coach told us. We played our best and tomorrow we will see.”

Ludwig/Walkenhorst next


Plesiutschnig is looking forward to their second round match against Shanghai champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who came out in the rain to have a look at “the enemy”, as Ludwig put it.

Schützenhöfer played the Germans twice before with Hansel and lost both times. “It’s a very strong team and it will be the first time we play them, but we will try our best. Most of the time we play better against better teams. We like to compete with the stronger ones.”

Asked about their future, Schützenhöfer answered that she is not going to play with Hansel anymore. “No, I will continue to play with Lena, because our focus is the Olympics in 2020, maybe 2016. We want to grow together on the World Tour and be one of the top teams in a few years.”

The first hurdle is getting used to the World Tour level. Plesiutschnig: “It is difficult, but for us it’s a little bit easier because Kathi already played on the World Tour last year. It’s easier because she has this experience.”

“She tells me not to be nervous, play with fun and fight together. She is the leader, yes.” Schützenhöfer: “We will see about that in a few years!”

FIVB Prague Open Tournament Page

FIVB Prague Open Main Draw

FIVB Prague Open Pool Standings

FIVB Prague Open Qualification

FIVB World Tour Twitter Account






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