The third day of the men’s competition at the 2015 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship was booked for rounds 1, 2 and 3 elimination matches.

Inspired by their compatriots Ksenia and Nazedza, who have eliminated the defending champions in the women’s tournament, Igor Velichko and Maxim Sivolap defeated the 2014 U22 European champions Christian Sorum and Runar Sannarnes, who had to settle with 5th place, coming from behind to take the spot at the semi-finals of tomorrow (17-21, 21-19, 15-11). Russia had previously sustained a setback as their number one team Stoyanovskiy/Yarzutkin had to leave the tournament early due to medical issues, but Igor and Maxim climbed the ladder by defeating Belgium’s Verspecht/Luyckx by 2-0 21-18, 21-13, in round 1, and Germany’s Harms/Schneider in three sets 14-21, 21-18, 15-12. Tomorrow they will face the U21 world champions, Poland’s Michal Bryl and Kacper Kujawiak, who also came from behind to defeat Germany’s Rudolf/Wickler (16-21, 21-19, 15-10) after edging Lithuania’s Rumsevicious/Kazdailis in two sets (21-13, 21-16).

“We expected a tough match; the German team is very good and hard to beat. We know them from past tournaments so we knew it would be difficult. After being down in the first set we had to be warriors and fight for every point. We did it and we are very happy to be in the semi-finals”, revealed Michal Bryl after the big match of the day.

“We are facing the Russians who knocked out Norway, which was a big surprise. They played high level volleyball so we must be focused to win. Let’s see what happens”, added Bryl.

The team from the Czech Republic also reached the top four, cruising Italia’s De Fabriitis/Pellegrino in two sets 21-13, 21-14, after an unbelievable comeback in round 2 against Denmark’s Abell/Trans. Despite losing the first set (21-15), the Czech, who played under the close attention, of their countryman, Mr. Jan Hronek CEV Vice President and tournament CEV Juri President, never backed down having won the second set (23-21) and overcoming a disadvantage of 4 points (5-9) to close the match in the tie-break (15-13).

The last slot was taken by the French Romain Di Giantommaso and Maxime Thiercy who beat the Austrian team Ermacora/Pristauz-Telsnigg in another thriller clash which was settled in three sets. The 2014 U21 World Championship bronze medal came from behind 19-21, 21-18, 15-11 to maintain their hopes alive of reaching the podium.

The day started badly for the local as Bernardo Silva and Bernardo Leite fell to De Fabrittis/Pellegrino (ITA) in two sets 21-14, 21-15, and had to settle for the 17th place overall.
“The Italian duo is taller, stronger and played very well as we couldn’t be at our best”, starts explaining Leite. “If we had a better match against Bulgaria, maybe we had avoided such a strong opponent on round 1”, stated.“Aging only 18 and 19 respectively, we’ll have more opportunities to play this competition”, revealed Silva.

The other Portuguese team Maia/Silva reached the second round after defeating Slovenia’s Kozir/Tomazin by 2-0 21-17, 21-18. However, the home duo had to settle with a 9th place overall after being downed by Austria’s Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg by 2-0 21-16, 21-13.
“We’ve entered well in the match but eventually things started to go wrong. We couldn’t react to their game, but we gave everything and I believe we represented our country well. I hope we can represent it once again and improve our mark”, stated Diogo Maia.

“The truth is that we needed some luck to beat the Austrian. At the final points their quality stood up and their victory is fair”, revealed Silva.


Though only four matches were scheduled on Saturday for the women’s competition at the 2015 CEV U22 Beach Volleyball European Championship in Macedo de Cavaleiros, there was no lack of excitement and drama as the semi-finalists of the tournament were eventually determined.

2014 U22 European champions Jagoda Gruszczynska and Karolina Baran of Poland had to leave the competition and won’t be able to continue their quest for back-to-back titles after losing in two sets (13-21, 15-21) to Russia’s Ksenia Dabizha and Nadezhda Makroguzova. After the match where they dethroned last year’s queens, the Russian players and their coach were visibly happy.

“We won this match because we played very well together and we supported each other,” explained Ksenia and Nadezhda. “We have hoped for a spot among the top four. It’s a good start and omen for the future because Ksenia and Nadia usually don’t play together but now they have been working like a Swiss clock, perfectly executing our game plan,” added their mentor Oleg Kiselev. “Even though we just beat the reigning champions we don’t want to be considered as the favourites in this competition. We just want to play, have fun and enjoy this magnificent landscape of Portugal,” the Russian girls said.

In the semis coming up on Sunday they will be playing reigning U20 European champions Nina Betschart and Nicole Eiholzer of Switzerland, who are also the gold medallists from the Baku 2015 European Games. Betschart/Eiholzer also needed only two sets to edge Germany’s Lisa Arnholdt and Nadja Glenzke (21-17, 21-19).

The Swiss girls were obviously pleased with their performance: “We were hoping to reach this stage of the competition but with so many good teams we had to play our best to make it happen, so we’re very happy. The level of the tournament is very good; it’s a European Championship so we’re all a little bit nervous and playing to the limit. When you reach the semi-finals you can only think about winning gold,” they said.

Lithuania’s golden girls Monika Povilaityte and Ieva Dumbauskaite (pictured) are determined to continue their success story from age-group competitions. On Saturday the bronze medal winners from the Baku 2015 European Games, however, were made work hard in their matchup with the real sensation of the tournament, Switzerland’s Dunja Gerson/Laura Caluori, before they eventually sealed their spot in the semis (21-23, 21-17, 15-11).

“The tournament is going very well, we expected to be among the top eight teams but we have made it even further now. Today we didn’t play our best game but we stayed focussed and that’s what helped us in the tie-break,” explained Monika Povilaityte.

Their next opponents are 2014 silver medallists Katarzyna Kociolek and Dorota Strag of Poland who also had to fight hard before edging Germany’s Sandra Ittlinger/Lena Ottens in three sets (21-11, 16-21, 15-13).

“Their team is really strong and they have a lot of experience but we want to play in the final. It will be tough, but if we bring to the court our best game, we can take the gold medal,” Povilaityte added.

“We really wanted to win this one because last year we finished in second place and we started the match very well winning the opening set by a safe margin,” says Kociolek. “We had some problems in the second set as we became anxious because of some referee decisions which impacted our game through to the tie-break, but we managed to overcome these feelings,” she explains. “We want to do better than we did last year, but a place on the podium would also be great. We know the Lithuanian team very well as we have played them a number of times in the last five years, but every match is different, so you’ll have to wait for tomorrow to see who goes to the final.”