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Germany, Poland, Russia & Slovak Republic seek European Gold

Slovak Republic's Dominika Nestarcova (left) and Natalia Dubovcova seek their first "major" international medal since placing at the podium in 2014 at the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif.

Klagenfurt, Austria, July 31, 2015 - With the FIVB World Tour on a three-weekend break before resuming play at a mid-August stop in the United States, the top players in Europe are competing here in the continental championships where women’s teams from Germany, Poland, Russia and the Slovak Republic have advanced to Saturday's "final four" matches.

Two-time European bronze medal winners Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst headline the semi-final teams as the Germans posted wins Friday over pairs from Switzerland and Greece to remain unbeaten in the competition.  Ludwig and Walkenhorst are seeking their second-straight international title after capturing a FIVB World Tour gold medal last weekend in Yokohama, Japan.

The Germans will play Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova of the Slovak Republic in Saturday's second semi-final with the winner meeting either Poland’s Kinga Kolosinska/Monika Brzostek or Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova/Ekaterina Birlova in the afternoon gold medal match.  Ludwig and Walkenhorst have a 2-1 advantage in the series with the Slovakians, but Dubovcova and Nestarcova defeated the Germans last month in a pool play match at the world championships in The Netherlands.

While the Poles and Slovakians will be vying for their country's first women's European Beach Volleyball title, Ukolova and Birlova will be seeking Russia's second crown.  Ludwig and Walkenhorst will be competing for Germany's sixth gold medal since the start of the continental championships in 1994.  Ludwig teamed with Sara Goller to top the European Championship podium in 2008 and 2010.

Dubovcova and Nestarcova, who captured a bronze medal at the 2014 ASCIS World Series of Beach Volleyball in southern California, have won three elimination matches after placing second in their pool.  The Slovakians' first of two wins Saturday eliminated Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands, the defending European champions.

Kolosinska and Brzostek matched the German's two-win effort Friday by eliminating pairs from Austria and Switzerland.  The Poles also won their pool highlighted by a win over highly-regarded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany, the fourth-place finishers at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in The Hague.

Ukolova and Birlova, who have a 3-1 edge in the series with the Poles, had to win three elimination matches to reach the semi-finals.  The Russians won only one of three pool play matches this week to finish third in their group to advance to the elimination rounds.

The men's semi-final and medal matches will be played Sunday.  Defending champions Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy are still in contention along with 15 other teams.  Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins, who have placed second in the last two European Championships, are also in contention along with 2013 continental winners Pablo Herrera and Adriana Gavira of Spain.  Other teams still participating are:

• Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, Austria
• Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl, Austria
• Jan Hadrava/Premysl Kubala, Czech Republic
• Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif, Germany
• Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen, Germany
• Sebastian Fuchs/Thomas Kaczmarek, Germany
• Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri, Italy
• Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst, Netherlands
• Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, Netherlands
• Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel, Poland
• Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak, Poland
• Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz, Poland
• Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov, Russia
• Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera, Spain


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