France's Krou/Rowlandson go all the way to gold at the Xiamen Open

Xiamen, China, October 11, 2014 – Youseff Krou and
Edouard Rowlandson from France claim their first ever FIVB medal winning the
final of the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open. The $150,000
Xiamen Open is the third visit to China for the 2014 FIVB World Tour and the
second consecutive year in Xiamen.

The French pair beat Spain’s Marco Francisco Alfredo
and Christian García 2-1 (22-20,
19-21, 15-12) in a final that kept everyone guessing until the very end. It was
the two teams' third meeting of the year with Marco/García undefeated against
the Frenchmen entering the gold medal match.

“We knew they are good and they knew that we are good,
so it was a rough game,” said Krou.

“We felt physically good, but we could feel that our
opponents were trying hard so it was going to turn at some point for one or the
other and we managed to grab it,” said Rowlandson.

Krou/Rowlandson had the slight edge in the first set,
but it wasn’t long before García began to pull out some impressive returns and
even more impressive blocks to bring the score from 16-14 up to 20-20. An
unfortunate Spanish smash into the net handed the Frenchmen the first set.

The second set saw a number of long rallies with well
controlled three touch play from both sides. By the midway point Marco/García
had given themselves a four point lead at 14-10, with flawless spikes down the
line from García. The Spanish pair retained the lead to end the set with a
gently placed ball into the centre of the court.

With the gold medal within reach for each team, the
third set was the closest. Krou/Rowlandson gained the advantage at 6-3 helped
along by a huge Rowlandson smash and began to put the pressure on Marco/García.
Two huge blocks in row by García brought the score to a level 8-8 and the
stakes were again evened.

A couple of confident smashes by Krou were followed by
a nervous serve that fell long, but the French pair had gained the upper hand and
victory was theirs with a final block at the net.  

“Right now we’re
feeling really tired, but it feels so good,” said Rowlandson. “We always say
before a tournament that you need seven games to win, but we did it and we’re
feeling proud.

“Even though we know a lot of the big teams were not
here, when you have an opportunity like that, it’s difficult to get them and so
we’re really pleased.”

Rowlandson has been playing on the FIVB World Tour
since 2012, but starts 2014 with new partner Krou who is new to the tour this

“We started the
season quite late and we’re a completely new team so for us there’s a lot of work
behind it and a lot of investment. It makes us want to work even harder for next
year and the year after to go to the Olympics,” said Rowlandson.


Spain’s Marco Francisco Alfredo and Christian García
first played together at the Junior World Championships in 2005, but did not re-join
forces until 2011 when they became regular faces on the FIVB World Tour. The
pair finished fifth at the Anapa Open this year, but the silver in Xiamen is
their first FIVB medal.

“We don’t feel good now, but the result is very, very
good. We just lost and we’ve very tired, but we must remember the result and
enjoy the ceremony.

“In the season this is the third time we played France
and the other times we won, but each match is different. They played really
well,” said García.

To reach the final, Marco/García had first faced USA’s
Theodore Brunner and John Mayer in the morning semifinal. Brunner’s towering
presence at the net paired with Mayer’s unfailing ability to find the clear
space on the opposing court, gave the Spanish pair a hard fight.

The match appeared to be heading for a third set until García
pulled not one, but three giant identical block points in a row to guarantee the
Spaniards a medal, 2-0 (21-18, 21-19).

“The match against USA was very hard, they are a very
good team, but finally we did three blocks to finish the match,” said García.

“This morning was very hard, but for me it’s a great
result. I enjoyed the tournament and the travel. The result is very important
to me and my family so I’m really happy,” said Marco.

for Russia’s Liamin/Barsouk

The bronze medal match was down to Russia’s Liamin
Nikita and Barsouk Dmitri and USA's Brunner/Mayer. Liamin’s two metre stature met
Brunner at the net and in the first set it was even all the way. The score lay
at 18-18 before USA let the set slip after an unforced error quickly turned
into 21-18 to Liamin/Barsouk.

The Russians came out strongly in the second set and
with both Liamin and Barsouk equipped with a powerful spiking arm, they were six
points ahead by the midway point. Brunner saved match point with a perfect
smash straight down the line, but the next point was Russia’s and the bronze
medal went to Liamin/Barsouk, 2-0 (21-18, 21-15).

“Everything in the match was under our control. Team
USA was a little bit tired, the tall blocker was slow and we received the
chance and used it,” said Barsouk.

“We were sure that we would win, we were not nervous, everything
was under control. After the first set, after I saw my young partner felt good
and after a few balls I said OK, we will win this match and everything will be
good. We blocked really well, we won five blocks in this game. It’s a good
result for the two sets, so the block is one of our strongest points,” said

Barsouk is well versed on the World Tour but recently
returns after a long absence from injury. He is back at the end of 2014 with
new partner Liamin who has just made the transition from indoor volleyball.

“For our team, each medal is important, but this medal
is super important because Liamin is a new player. He never played on the
beach, it’s his first season after playing indoor. For me it’s also an important
win for the bronze medal because I missed the last three years from my shoulder
injury, so this medal is a great comeback,” said Barsouk.

With the Grand Slam portion of the 2014 FIVB World Tour
now complete, the tour continues after Xiamen with four more FIVB Open events.
The tour will travel to Argentina for the FIVB Parana Open (Oct. 28-Nov. 2)
before heading to Doha for the men-only FIVB Qatar Open (Nov. 4-8). India will
then host the double-gender FIVB Vizag Open (Nov. 25-30), before the 2014
calendar comes to a close in South Africa with the double-gender FIVB Mangaung
Open (Dec. 9-14).


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