Schützenhöfer and Plesiutschnig pass first test and advance to second knockout round
For both teams it was the first real test after four easy wins in the pool. In the first set the Austrians gave away a three-point lead at 17-14 and it was Brazil who had the first set point. They failed to close it and after that the teams were alternating set points. Brazil had four, but it was Plesiutschnig who claimed the first set on Austria’s fifth set point (29-27).
It gave the Austrians a mental boost and in no time they were leading 7-2 in the second set. Eduarda and Carol Maxima came back to one point (9-8), but started making mistakes in reception and seemed to give up. Schützenhöfer and Plesiutschnig created a gap from 14-12 and it was Plesiutschnig again who finished the job with an excellent block: 21-16.
“It was really exhausting”, said the 20-year old blocker after the match. “They played really well in the first set.” Schützenhöfer added: “I think we won the match in the first set. We believed that we could win and that was important. We celebrated every point. In the beginning of the second set we were leading from the start, it became close in the middle but we were always leading, so it was clear in the second set. So the first was very important.”
While their 15-year opponent Eduarda won the silver medal last year at the U23 with Thais Rodrigues, the third seeded Austrians finished 5th in 2013. But since then the team has grown, winning bronze at the U21 and making their World Tour debut with 9th place at the Prague Open as their best result so far. It gave them a lot of confidence.
“We want to win the tournament”, said Plesiutschnig. “At least a medal”, added Schützenhöfer, “but there are some very good teams, including Brazil. So if we have to play them again it’s not going to be easy. And there are some other teams that are not so easy. So we have to play our best, then it’s possible to win, otherwise we can get 5th or 9th.”