The second day of men’s competition at the 2015 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship was one to forget for Russia as their top duo Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin – gold medallists from last year’s Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing – had to withdraw from the competition due to illness. Russia’s second duo Igor Velichko/Maxim Sivolap, on the other hand, finished pool play in a rather disappointing third place.

Norway, on the other hand, continues to dominate the scene. 2014 U22 European champions Christian Sandlie Sørum/Runar Torsvik Sannarnes and their compatriots Anders Berntsen/Mathias Berntsen topped the charts of Pool A and B, respectively, without dropping a single set.

The same feat was achieved also by reigning U21 world champions, Poland’s Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak, France’s Romain Di Giantommaso/Maxime Thiercy – bronze medallists at last year’s U21 World Champs – and by Austria’s Martin Ermacora/Moritz Bernd Pristauz-Telsnigg.

Germany’s Niklas Rudolf/Clemens Wickler, another two contenders for the medals after last year they won gold at the U20 European Championship, forfeited their last pool match with Belarus’s Anton Dedkov/Pavel Vauchkevich but still topped the charts of Pool F as did also their compatriots Yannick Harms/Mirko Schneider who recorded three straight victories in Pool G.

Ondrej Perusic and Tomas Vana of the Czech Republic finished first in Pool H as they beat Italy’s Giacomo De Fabritiis/Davide Pellegrino 21-19, 21-16 in a clash for the leadership in the group.

Diogo Ferreira Maia and José Silva saved the honour of the host country as they finished third in Pool A, this way making it to the elimination round, as did also Bernardo Silva/Bernardo Leite who had to fight for three sets before edging their neighbours Hugo Rojas/Lorenzo Arabisen from Spain 21-23, 21-17, 16-14.

Silva/Leite will now play Italy’s De Fabritiis/Pellegrino in the first elimination round. “All teams are strong at this stage, but if we play like we did in this last match and if we have the support of the fans like we had today, I believe we stand a chance of making Round 2,” Bernardo Silva says.

Portugal’s third tandem Francisco Pombeiro/Jose Jardim recorded a victory over Belgium’s Martijn Verspecht and Kwinten Luyckx in three sets (15-21, 21-11, 15-12) but that wasn’t enough to secure promotion to the next round of the tournament.

“We celebrated only for a few minutes as we were soon told that we haven’t reached the next stage by only five points. We played in a age-group tournament whose limit is two years higher than our current age and the draw set us with great teams from Switzerland and France. Our task was difficult but we think that we played well in all our matches, so we leave the competition with a positive feeling as we are already thinking about our participation in the U20 European Championship coming up next week in Cyprus,” Pombeiro and Jardim said.


As slowly but surely the competition is about to enter its most exciting stages, the women’s top teams continue to shine at the 2015 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship at Praia de Albufeira in Macedo de Cavaleiros. Germany, Poland and Switzerland have each qualified two teams for the quarterfinals with the top eight being completed by Lithuania’s Monika Povilaityte/Ieva Dumbauskaite and Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha/Nadezhda Makroguzova.

Quite surprisingly Finland’s Ida Sinisalo/Niina Ahtiainen opened the programme edging Austria’s Julia Radl/Nadine Strauss 21-15, 21-18 and this way the bronze medallists from last year’s U18 European Championship got the right to challenge reigning U22 European champions Jagoda Gruszczynska and Karolina Baran of Poland in Round 2. The winners of last year’s competition in Fethiye, Turkey, confirmed their status as ‘hottest’ contenders for the crown also in Portugal as they claimed an easy 21-17, 21-14 victory in their matchup with the young Finns. Poland’s second duo and last year’s silver medallists, Dorota Strag and Katarzyna Kociolek, also progressed to the quarterfinals following their 21-19, 21-19 win over Marketa Bendikova and Magdalena Dostalova of the Czech Republic.

Poland’s feat was emulated by Switzerland as both of their teams also moved on to the quarterfinals. 2014 U20 European champions Nina Betschart/Nicole Eiholzer booked their spot among the top eight of the tournament following a hard-fought 21-16, 19-21, 15-10 win over Katerina Valkova and Nicole Dostalova of the Czech Republic. Switzerland’s second duo, Dunja Gerson and Laura Caluori (pictured), had finished ‘only’ third in their pool but on Friday recorded two straight wins, first over Turkey’s Merve Nezir/Esra Betül Cetin (21-14, 21-13) and after that they edged also Latvia’s Alise Lece/Marta Ozolina (21-18, 14-21, 15-12) to remain in contention for a medal.

On Saturday Gerson/Caluori will be playing Lithuania’s golden girls Monika Povilaityte and Ieva Dumbauskaite for a spot in the semis after the bronze medal winners from the Baku 2015 European Games stamped a 21-14, 21-18 in their Round 2 match with Julia Wouters and Lauri Luijken of The Netherlands. Povilaityte and Dumbauskaite haven’t dropped a set yet in the tournament and will be a hard nut to crack for Gerson and Caluori.

“We thought that we would have a chance in the first round, but we are surprised with having reached the quarterfinals as Latvia played very well in the previous stages of the tournament. We have secured a fifth place and that is very good, but we will make an extra effort to reach the semis,” Dunja Gerson says. “This is the first tournament that we are playing together so this is already more than we had hoped for. I think the main challenge is within our team because we still don’t know each other very well. We’re having fun and we’ll see tomorrow how far we can go.”

Germany also has two teams in the quarterfinals. Sandra Ittlinger/Lena Ottens and Lisa Arnholdt/Nadja Glenzke progressed to the round of the best eight with Ittlinger/Ottens having to work hard in their match with Belarus’s Viktoryia Shalayeuskaya/Viktoryia Siakretava (21-17, 18-21, 15-10) whilst everything went just easy for Arnholdt/Glenzke who stamped a 21-16, 21-14 win in their match with Spain’s Aida Etxebarria/Nerea Izagirre. Similarly to Povilaityte/Dumbauskaite, Arnholdt and Glenzke also haven’t conceded a set to their opponents since the start of the competition.

Portugal’s last team in the competition, Vanessa Paquete and Margarida Vasques, lost in the first elimination round to their neighbours from Spain, Etxebarria/Izagirre 19-21, 12-21.

“We started a bit too slow in the second set, because we felt that we deserved more in the first as we had set the pace almost all the time. Unfortunately, we failed in the decisive moments, so we were very upset about it and when we tried to get back into the game it was already too late,” explains Vanessa Paquete.
“It was a good experience to play alongside Vanessa,” adds the only 16-year old Margarida Vasques. “We have to be proud of what we accomplished, although I think we can do better than this but the level of this tournament is very high and anything can happen.”