Qinzhou, China, October 15, 2017 – Russia’s 15th seeds Maxim Sivolap/Igor Velichko rallied past Mexico’s fourth seeds Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros in a three-set thriller on Sunday morning to capture their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour title at the Qinzhou Open.
Sivolap and Velichko, who had never reached the podium at a World Tour event, earned the 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 20-18) victory in the gold medal match that lasted for 52 minutes.
“We are really happy! We played on almost our maximum level and won the tournament and we can’t express our feelings now. It’s something marvelous,” said Sivolap. “The gold medal shows that we are going in the right direction and we have been working strongly. Our aim was to go for the gold medal and we got it and everybody is really happy.”
After dropping the first set, Sivolap and Velichko led most of the way to level one set back and force the tiebreaker. In the third set, the Mexicans beat off six match points to level it at 18-all, but Velichko converted on the seventh with a smash.
“We tried to keep our level of playing, we did not look at the score,” said Velichko. “Maybe the secret (of winning) is to keep your level of playing and play the best of it.”
“This gold medal gave us a lot of confidence and points, now we can start to practise again and get ready for the next year,” he added. We know we can play well in this tournament and we’ll see how we can do in the next events.”
Earlier on Sunday, third seeds Nadir Diaz Gomez Nivaldo and Bayard Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez of Cuba rallied past top seeds Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium 2-1 (16-21, 21-16, 15-11) to take home the bronze medal, the first medal for them at any World Tour event.
After winning the second set, Nivaldo and Gonzalez continued their momentum in the tiebreaker as they roared to a 5-1 cushion. Koekelkoren/van Walle answered with a 5-0 burst to overtake at 6-5 and improved to 11-9.
Then it was showtime for Gonzalez, who stopped Koekelkoren three times in a row to make it 13-11. Following a kill by Nivaldo, Gonzalez made a splendid diving save that landed on the Belgians’ court to be the match winner.
“This medal is very important for us, because the people in Cuba love volleyball so much,” said Nivaldo. “And this is the last tournament of the season for us; it’s great to go home with a medal.”Quick links - Beach volleyball:
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