Lucerne, Switzerland, May 10, 2018 – This week’s weather forecast for Lucerne finally came true on Thursday as heavy clouds covered the sky and heavy showers fell down to make the first main draw competition day of the three-star double-gender event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour all the more exciting. Defying the rain, 32 men’s and 32 women’s pairs got pool play action underway with some really spectacular matches pleasing the crowd at the LIDO event venue.
In the men’s competition, the first leg of pool play took place on Thursday. Each team played one match with the winners securing their advancement into the single elimination rounds and the losers getting a second shot at the knock-out stages in the second leg on Friday morning.
In three of the pools, both matches were resolved in tie-breaker third sets, but Pool E went a step further boasting six nail-biting sets, each of which ended on a two-point margin. Poland’s Maciej Rudol and Kacper Kujawiak lost the first set to Austria’s Tobias Winter and Julian Hoerl in the overtime, but then managed a spectacular comeback to snatch a 2-1 (22-24, 23-21, 15-13) victory.
“It was a tough beginning. We were close in the first set, but we made a few mistakes. When we were down, we came back better and better. In the end it was really tight, we felt the pressure, but we won and we are very happy about it,” Kujawiak commented.
“Our goal is to play our best. For sure, we want to win the second match and win the pool, and after that, we will see...,” Rudol added.
To win the pool, the Poles will have to overcome Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta, who emerged with a 2-1 (26-24, 19-21, 15-13) win from a tough encounter with the fifth-seeded Chileans Esteban Grimalt and Marco Grimalt.
One of the home teams, Adrian Heidrich and Mirco Gerson, energized the crowd at centre court with a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 (15-21, 21-17, 16-14) victory over Indonesia’s Ade Rachmawan and Mohammad Ashfiya, the only men’s win for Switzerland on Thursday. In the other Pool G game, Russia’s Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov also came back from a set down to claim a 2-1 (21-23, 21-18, 15-10) victory over France’s Olivier Barthelemy and Romain Di Giantommaso.
The Pool D matches were also extremely competitive, each lasting for 51 minutes. Fourth-seeded Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle claimed a 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-11) win over American wildcards John Mayer and Trevor Crabb, while Dutchmen Dirk Boehle and Steven van de Velde persevered through a three-set battle with Austria’s Robin Seidl and Christoph Dressler for a 2-1 (23-21, 17-21, 15-12) victory.
Three teams from USA and one each from Austria, Cuba, France, Italy, Lithuania, Norway and Qatar were also among the winners in the first leg of men’s pool play.
On the women’s side, all 24 duos to play in the single elimination rounds became known on Thursday, as the losers’ survival clashes for the third places in the pools also took place in the late afternoon.
In one of the most interesting first-leg matches, Ukraine’s Valentyna Davidova and Ievgeniia Shchypkova managed to stay cool in the conclusive moments of the tie-breaker to fix a 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 16-14) win after 54 minutes of play time in their Pool F encounter with Germany’s Teresa Mersmann and Cinja Tillmann.
It was quite dramatic in the North American clash between Canada’s Taylor Pischke and Jamie Lynn Broder and USA’s Lane Carico and Lara Dykstra. The girls from California, who came into the main draw through Wednesday’s qualifications, used the positive outcome of the extended second set to gain momentum and cruise on to a 2-1 (13-21, 23-21, 15-8) victory.
“It feels awesome! It always feels good to come through a qualifier, because you cannot take anything for granted. So we are happy to be here and we are fired up!” Lane Carico said. “I always set my goal at the top, so we are just going to take it one point at a time and hope for the best.”
Three teams from Brazil, two from the Netherlands and one each from Australia, Austria, China, Germany, Latvia, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand and USA make up the remaining 14 pairs, who won their first-leg matches and will be fighting for the top positions in the pool standings. Also surviving through pool play and advancing to the first single elimination round as third-placed teams are two duos from Italy and one each from Canada, Japan, Russia, Spain, Switzerland and USA.