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Europeans warm up for Euro Champs by dominating Anapa medals

Having won their first gold medals, Plavins and Solovejs will be eyeing more success in 2014

Anapa, Russia, June 1, 2014 – European teams claimed all six medals on offer at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Anapa Open to prepare for the CEV European Championships in the best way possible.

Martins Plavins and Aleksandrs Solovejs won their first World Tour gold by winning the men’s competition on Sunday a day after Victoria Bieneck and Julia Grossner of Germany had done the same with the women’s gold on Saturday.

The European Championships take place in Cagliari in Italy and run from June 3-8. Once the action in Sardinia is complete, the athletes return to FIVB competition at the Moscow Grand Slam from June 11-15.

Latvian pair end local hopes at Anapa Open

Plavins and Solovejs ended the hopes of a home win at the Anapa Open when they defeated Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov 2-1 (21-16, 24-26, 15-13) in the men’s gold medal match on Sunday.

They took control early in both sets, but despite holding four match points at the end of the second set, Semenov and Krasilnikov rallied to draw level. In the third set the teams went point for point, but once Plavins and Solovejs edged ahead they held on for victory.

“It is always nice to win and it is nice to win when we have a lot of fans cheering for us,” Plavins said. “We are happy to win and I’ve very pleased for Alex because it shows how much he has improved.”

German duo claim maiden World Tour golds at Anapa Open

Bieneck and Grossner beat Russia’s Ekaterina Syrtseva and Alexandra Shiryaeva 2-0 (22-20, 21-19) in the gold medal match and in doing so demonstrated the current depth of German women’s beach volleyball.

Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst won their first Grand Slam gold in Shanghai this year, Karla Borger and Britta Buthe reached the final of the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick are regulars on the World Tour podium.

“It is the first time we were in the semifinal and now it is the first time that we have won a gold medal and we are so happy, though we didn’t believe it before the tournament,” Bieneck said.

“I didn’t expect it to be two sets,” Grossner added. “They are a very good team and very tough and in every set we were behind for a while and came back, but we always believed we could win this game.”

Double the Russian fun as Ukolova and Prokopeva claim bronze

Defending gold medallist Evgenia Ukolova ensured that she didn’t leave empty-handed when she and Maria Prokopeva defeated Spain’s Angela Lobato Herrero and Paula Soria Gutierrez 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) in the bronze medal match.

The Spaniards were in control early on in the first set, but after they failed to convert two set points the Russians took the initiative and held onto it for the rest of the match.

“We were a bit disappointed that we lost in the semifinal, but our coach said winning a medal was a good result,” Ukolova said. “We didn’t concentrate well enough at the start, but once we did we were able to play our normal style and take control of the game.”

Gabathuler and Gerson edge out fellow Swiss for bronze

In the bronze medal match Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson fought back from losing the opening set to defeat their fellow Swiss Sebastien Chevallier and Alexei Strasser 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 16-14) and win their first-ever World Tour medals.

“We weren’t thinking about the other team, we were more concerned with ourselves and what we were going to do,” Gabathuler said. “Of course it was really special to reach the semifinal and then playing in a bronze medal match is always special, no matter whom you are playing.”

The double-gender US$150,000 FIVB Anapa Open in Russia ran from Tuesday, May 27 through to Sunday June 1 and the top three teams in each gender received 250, 225 and 200 world ranking points. It was the fifth event and the fourth Open on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar, which features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.

The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Moscow Grand Slam which runs from June 11-15.


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