Turkey’s Engin Ozbek dives for the ball under the watchful eyes of the fans in Aydin
Aydin, Turkey, May 19 2018 – The second day of the one-star event in Aydin on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour started with more favourable weather conditions – with temperatures rising to 30°C, but a cloudy sky. Teams from Turkey, Serbia, Sweden and Russia completed a clean sweep of their matches in the pool stage to progress straight to the men’s quarterfinals.
Top-seeded Safa Urlu and Hasan Huseyin Mermer of Turkey secured the host country’s first win in the tournament with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) victory in their Pool A match with Sweden’s David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig.
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“It is an important win for us and for our country. We did not want to have to go through the losers’ bracket and as a result, we fought even harder,” Urlu said.
Urlu and Mermer played Poland’s Mateusz Paszkowski and Mateusz Lysikowski for the top spot in the pool and, with the help of the crowd, the local heroes stamped a 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) win to secure a berth among the top eight of the tournament.
Mermer spikes against Paszkowski
“We feel proud to celebrate these victories for Turkey. Our aim is to finish the tournament among the top three and I believe we can do that. Many thanks to all the fans, who have showed up to support us! Aydin has the best fans across all the cities and places I have played in,” Mermer added.
The 16-year-old Swedes Ahman and Hellvig secured a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-13) win over Dutchmen Ruben Penninga and Mees Blom in the pool’s third place match to stay alive in the tournament.
David Ahman sets the ball
“We were a little bit nervous, but we managed to close the game in our favour,” Ahman said. “I played against Penninga before so I knew what to expect and what to do. Other Swedish teams have followed their previous matches and they provided us with some useful tips, so we could focus on ourselves rather than on the opponents. We showed that tactics really matter in this game.”
After making it through the qualification round on Thursday, Serbia’s Stefan Basta and Lazar Kolaric took advantage of the withdrawal of Turkey’s Enes Safak Sezer and Selcuk Sekerci. Sezer had suffered an injury before the match and could not continue the game after the first set, won 21-13 by the Serbs. Second-seeded Basta and Kolaric continued their show of strength against Spain’s Raul Mesa and Christian Garcia to celebrate a 2-1 (21-16, 20-22, 15-12) win, and topped the final standings in Pool B.
In Pool C, Martin Appelgren and Simon Boman of Sweden beat Austria’s Felix Friedl and Maximilian Trummer 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) and third-seeded Iranians Bahman Salemiinjehboroun and Arash Vakili 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) to progress straight to the quarterfinals.
Turkey’s Ali Berke Sagir and Engin Ozbek claimed a 2-1 (21-16, 15-21, 15-10) victory over the Austrians to stay alive in the competition. “We have been playing together for two months only,” Ozbek said after the match. “It is therefore exciting to have made it to the next round. Our goal is a top-three finish and I believe we can make it there with the support of this crowd. Aydin has the best fans I have ever seen.”
Ali Berke Sagir has returned to Aydin after playing there last year. “This city has such a great crowd and we want to pay them back. This event is truly special to me and it shows how much I have improved as an athlete since I was here last year,” he said.
Jakob Molin and Linus Tholse of Sweden lost a close match to Russia’s Maksim Hudyakov and Ruslan Bykanov in Pool D. Under light rain, the Russians easily won the first set before the Swedes responded swiftly in the second. Hudyakov and Bykanov fought back to take the tie-break and the match 2-1 (21-12, 15-21, 15-10). After securing a comprehensive 2-0 (21-11, 21-11) victory over Turkey’s Yusuf Ozdemir and Ali Cebeci.