Mangaung, South Africa, December 14, 2014 - Martina Bonnerova and Barbora Hermannova claimed their first ever career medal on the World Tour on Sunday by winning the FIVB Beach Volleyball Mangaung Open. The Czech pair defeated Japan’s Takemi Nishibori and Sayaka Mizoe 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) in the final.
“It’s so amazing”, Hermannova said. “We really put a high standard there with gold being our first medal. But why not?”
Bonnerova and Hermannova were in control during the whole match and were racing towards a big win in the first set, leading 19-11. But the Czechs lost focus a bit and let the Japanese come back to 19-14. In the end they needed two set points to close it.
The second set was a lot closer and Take and Mizoe, who had the support of the crowd in Rose Garden Park all week, even levelled a couple of times. Both defence players, Take and Bonnerova, hustled in the back and had some amazing digs, which resulted in long and spectacular rallies.
At 18-15 the Czechs finally created a three-point lead and at 20-16 Take hit the ball out, making Hermannova burst out into tears.
“I wanted this so much”, she said. “We knew we had a good chance. But we had to fight for it; they are so fast and clever players. But our tactic worked well. They play a lot of shots behind the net. And I was prepared for it. And Martina dug a lot line hits.”
“I was just trying to focus on the game”, Bonnerova said. “I didn’t want to think about leading, about winning. We tried to focus on every ball and control the game.”
The Japanese girls could not pull another comeback like they did in the quarter and semifinal. “We are empty, no energy left”, said Mizoe. Take: “But we are so happy, our first medal, we are proud”, Take said.
It is only the fourth Japanese World Tour medal and the first since 2000, when Yukiki Takahashi and Mika Teru Saika won silver in Osaka.Happy endings for Ukolova/Prokopeva
Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Maria Prokopeva ended the season with a bronze medal after a hard fought 2-1 win (17-21, 22-20, 15-12) over USA’s Lane Carico and Kimberly Dicello.
It is their second bronze after finishing third at the Anapa Open this year. “You know it’s always good to end the season with a win, and we did not win that many medals this year”, Ukolova said.
The Russian girls played together from 2007 through 2010 and renewed their partnership again at the end of last year. Individually this is Ukolova’s 7th medal, she won two gold, one silver and three bronzes with former partner Ekaterina Khomyakova. For Prokopeva this is her fourth bronze medal.
The Russian team looked to go for a quick win after securing the first set easily, but the Americans came back strong with great digs from Carico and a couple of aces by Dicello to take the second set.
Ukolova and Prokopeva then started to feel the heat.
“We got fatigued, that’s why we lost the second”, Ukolova said. Prokopeva even needed a medical time-out in the tiebreak, which was point-by-point till 9-9. At their second match point Prokopeva pushed herself to claim the bronze with a final cross-court spike.
Prokopeva: “We were exhausted yesterday and disappointed that we played bad in the semifinals yesterday. So this bronze medal is very welcome.”