Ljubljana, Slovenia. Denmark’s Clara Windeleff and Line Trans Hansen claimed the gold medal in the women’s competition, while Andrea Abbiati and Tiziano Andreatta emerged victorious in the men’s gold medal match of the 1-Star event held in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. Windeleff and Trans Hansen secured the very first Danish gold medal from a World Tour event since women’s play started in 1992.
Denmark extended their supremacy in this tournament with both of their teams reaching the finals, although they had to play three sets to get there.
In the third place match, Belgium’s Sarah Cools and Lisa Van den Vonder started strong with a 4-1 lead, but Latvia’s Anete Namike and Varvara Brailko managed to close the gap. Later, the Belgians took advantage of their height as well as their good serving to secure a 21-14 win in the first set. The Latvians pushed harder in the next one but lost it as well. Van den Vonder was happy after the triumph: “The second set was a little bit different and more difficult than the first one. The opponents were extremely fast and we were not used to that fast rhythm of the game. This is why it was so close. We are very happy with the victory and the bronze medal.”
In the historic all-Danish finale, Windeleff and Trans Hansen were in full control of the match, leaving Cecilie Olsen and Sofia Bisgaard no chance to develop their game. In the end, they stormed to a comprehensive 21-11 and 21-10 victory. “I think we dominated through the whole match. We played aggressively and committed less mistakes. Our focus was on winning each next point, we gave 200% and we are so happy with the outcome,” Trans Hansen, who received the MVP award as well, could not hide her excitement after winning the gold medal.
Slovenia’s home heroes Vid Jakopin and Tadej Boženk caught a flying start and claimed the first set but Italy’s Andrea Abbiati/Tiziano Andreatta staged a comeback and it was Abbiati’s two points in a row that brought the Italians a spot in the finals. In the all-Austrian semi-final, Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst outplayed their compatriots Alexander Huber and Christoph Dressler.
The Slovenians did not want to disappoint the home crowd that came to support them so they did their best in the bronze medal match. Their strong serving brought them a 24-22 victory in the first set. Huber and Dressler stepped up and got into a double-digit lead closing the second one at 21-10 in their favour. They kept their rhythm and emerged victorious in the third one as well (15-8). Dressler, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Sunday, was over the moon with their result and his personal celebration: “I want to thank CEV and FIVB for hosting my birthday party this year at the Ljubljana World Tour event. I really enjoyed playing here and I want to thank my partner for playing such a nice tournament with me and hope to see you all next year.”
Doppler and Horst claimed the first point of the grand finale, but the highly motivated Italians changed the course of the set, cruising to a three-point lead (17-14). The experienced Austrians closed the gap at 18-18, but Andreatta sealed the first set with an impressive block. However, Austria’s duo did not give up and they conceded only 15 points to their rivals in the second set. The Italians, however, regained their focus and prevailed in the tiebreak for a 15-11 win. “We did not expect this victory, since it is the first tournament after such a long break. Our opponents are a very good and strong team. It was beautiful to play on this amazing square, in this atmosphere. Even if it was really hot in some moments, it was really fantastic, especially because we won,” commented Andreatta after the triumph, whose partner Abbiati won the MVP title.