Ljubljana, Slovenia. An extremely hot summer Friday accounted for many high-level Beach Volleyball matches in the centre of Ljubljana as well as on the side courts in Crnuce. All of the four top-seeded teams confidently reached the quarterfinals of the men’s competition, while in the women’s tournament, only Denmark’s Cecilie Køllner Olsen and Sofia Nørager Bisgaard lived up to their role of pre-favourites at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour 1-Star event.
Slovenia’s home heroes and reigning national champions Nejc Zemljak and Jan Pokeršnik opened the second competition day with an easy 21-13, 21-11 win over Simon Pfretzschner and Rudy Schneider from Germany. Zemljak was satisfied with the result: “We are happy with reaching the quarterfinals, especially after the second match, when we were already a bit tired, because of the difficult conditions. It is even harder to deliver your best performance, when you are not in the best shape. I believe that in the morning we played better and proved that we can perform as we planned.” They are the only Slovenian team to reach the quarterfinals without playing in the Round of 12.
Jan’s older brother Danijel and his partner Crtomir Bošnjak struggled against Czechs Jiri Sedlak and Patrik Manas in their third match of the day. Still, they emerged victorious in three sets (21-13, 16-21, 15-7). Two remaining home teams clashed for the last spot in the quarterfinals. The experienced Vid Jakopin and Tadej Boženk (pictured above) proved to be too big of a challenge for youngsters Rok Možic and Alan Košenina, winning comfortably 21-12, 21-16.
Austria’s Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst are the second men’s team with two consecutive 2-0 triumphs, while their compatriots Alexander Huber/Christoph Dressler and Italy’s Andrea Abbiati/Tiziano Andreatta also managed to secure their quarterfinal spot already after the group stage. “It was extremely hot today. I know that the conditions are the same for all, but I think it is tougher for us that are a little older. Ljubljana has a great history of tournaments, we saw many great pictures of the centre court with its amazing atmosphere and I am really looking forward to playing there,” commented Doppler after a successful day.
In the women’s tournament, Denmark took all the glory of the second competition day with Windeleff/Trans and Olsen/Bisgaard reaching the quarterfinals without dropping a single set. “It was a really good match. When we saw them in the video from the warm-up, we knew they were a very good team. Despite their solid performance, we followed our game strategy and that made the difference in the end. We trusted our game and we did not lose our heads so we are really happy and excited,” Cecilie Køllner Olsen shared her thoughts after defeating Italy’s duo Margherita Bianchin/Claudia Scampoli.
Belgium’s Sarah Cools/Lise Van den Vonder and Latvia’s Anete Namike/Varvara Brailko also won two group matches and qualified for the quarterfinals. Namike was obviously happy with the result: “The second match was really tough. After an amazing first set, we struggled a lot in the next one, so we are happy that we got ourselves together. It was quite stressful but we are happy to finish both matches in straight sets. It is actually our third time for us to play here; we love it and enjoy the city of Ljubljana.”
Three home teams said goodbye after the pool stage of the tournament with only national champions Tjaša Kotnik and Monika Potokar left in contention for a spot in the quarterfinals.
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