Aida Etxebarria and Nerea Izagirre from Spain confirmed their favoritism and arrived at the end of the first competition day as the only undefeated team of the WEVZA U21 BVB tournament organized by the Portuguese Volleyball Federation and that is being held at Praia da Ribeira in Albufeira do Azibo, Macedo de Cavaleiros.
The men’s event was marked by uncertainty in what regarded the semifinals; something that was only decided in the last match…

The semifinals are scheduled as below:

09h00 : Etxebarria / Izagirre (ESP) x Zwaanswijk / Bak (NED)
10h00 : Paquete / Silva (POR) x Reis / Tinoco (POR)

11h00 : Huerta / Rojas (ESP) x Maia / Silva (POR)
12h00 : Leite / Jardim (POR) x Bouter / Van der Ham (NED)

The finals will be held at 15h00 (women) and 16h00 (men)

The superiority of the Spanish team, both with 19 years old, was evident throughout the three first matches, but in the last match of the day they encountered the strong opposition of their opponents, the Portuguese Vanessa Paquete and Daniela Silva. “To play four matches in the same day is complicated. We are in a good physical condition and entered well in the competition, but afterwards we felt some difficulties against the Portuguese team [Paquete/Silva], that we believe, are one of the favorite to win the tournament. They are well coordinated and similar to us, they are very fast. Tomorrow is a new day; therefore we will have to give our best to win. This venue is amazing, very beautiful and the surrounding is fantastic”.

Margarida Reis and Maria Tinoco won (2-0: 21/19, 21/13) against Loladina Zwaanswijk and Marly Bak from Netherlands and guaranteed a place in the semifinals, where they will face Vanessa Paquete and Daniela Silva.
“It was a very important win, not only because of the result and qualification but also because it demonstrated a very strong connection between our team to arrive to the victory. We are very pleased to advance to the semifinals. The main favorites are the Spanish Etxebarria and Izagirre and Vanessa and Daniela, but in semifinal and finals all can happen, so we continue to believe… To play here in Azibo, is fantastic. The venue is very pretty and framed within this beautiful landscape. It’s hot and the wind is minimum. Congratulations to the organizers”.
The other Portuguese team, Vanessa and Daniela lost (1-2: 21/16, 16/21, 9/15) against Carla Alocen and Maria Palet from Spain – this isolated win didn’t change their 5th position -, but had already guaranteed the 2nd place and consequent passage to the semifinals.
“We already knew that this last match would be very complicated since we were very tired, but equally satisfied with the qualification. Unfortunately, we will face Margarida and Maria, but that also means that Portugal will have a team playing the final. The Spanish team Etxebarria / Izagirre is very strong, are very skillful and experience together, but aren’t very tall. All is in the open and we continue to believe that it’s possible to win the tournament” highlighted Daniela Silva.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese public have adopted already the local heroes, Diogo Maia and Tomas Silva. Undefeated until the match against Jasper Bouter and Jannes Van der Ham from Netherlands, the Portuguese team never stopped fighting for the victory, even though one of the players (Diogo) had played the second and third set under a mask of pain...
Tomas Silva highlighted the stoicism of his teammate, after a traumatic match, during which it seemed that the Portuguese team wouldn’t let go of the victory. Nevertheless, “Maia started to feel strong cramps in the middle of the second set, being able nevertheless to hold on until the end of the set, but the third one demonstrated that, under these conditions, our mission was impossible. We gave everything we had. But it was impossible. We tried to adjust our reception because he wasn’t capable of attack, but we were unable to overcome the injury. Nevertheless, and despite this defeat, all is in the open and, if Maia should be recovered, tomorrow we will be here fighting once again for the title” promised Tomas Silva.
Nevertheless the withdraw, due to injury, in the following match, put them behind on the ranking after Netherland and also the other Portuguese team, Jose Jardim and Bernardo Leite, that qualified after the victory in the last match against Pablo Penedo and Sanchez Baluja, from Spain.
“We knew from the beginning that all the teams were balanced, but we entered in every match with the same attitude, always thinking in the victory and this qualification ends up by rewarding all that we’ve done. Tomorrow we will try to win and reach the final, since today’s matches showed us that the victory may smile to any team. We are enjoying this competition singe the stadium is staged in a wonderful place and it’s this kind of events that help us to prepare the participation in high level competitions such as the Under Age European and World Championships”.