Hartles and Nicklin make Vaduz round of 12 with defeat of home pair
There were only four matches on Friday in the men’s tournament, where the remaining round of 12 spots had to be decided between the losing teams in the group stage.
The Czech Republic’s Robert Kufa and Martin Melmuka, Russia’s Vsevold Bobrikov and Vladislav Mikhalev, the Netherlands’ Tom van Steenis and Sven Vismans and New Zealand’s Tom Hartles and Alani Nicklin all came up with victories in straight sets to stay in contention for the Vaduz title.
Kufa/Melmuka beat their European counterparts Danijel Pokersnik/Jure Peter Bedrac, while Bobrikov/Mikhalev and Van Steenis/Vismans both eliminated Japanese teams.
In the final match in men’s pool play, Hartles and Nicklin faced Liechtenstein’s Manuel Gahr and Maximillian von Deichmann in straight sets. The Kiwis had a sluggish start as the home pair challenged them for every point until they were able to extend the set. However, the visiting duo managed to gain the two-point edge to claim the first set win at 23-21. The second set, however, was much easier for the Kiwis as they mounted a huge lead to win the match at 21-9.
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Austria’s Florian Ertl/Johannes Kratz enjoyed the day-off in Vaduz after directly qualifying to the quarterfinals on Thursday.
“At the beginning of the season we still had a few problems with the chemistry within the team, but now we have been able to win more, so we have started to play much more relaxed,” they said. “In the decisive balls, especially, we now play with more self-confidence and are calmer. Volleyball remains quite a mental game, so once you are in the flow it becomes a lot easier.”
Ertl/Kratz were one of four teams to make it to the quarterfinals on Thursday together with their compatriots Moritz Fabian Kindl/Mathias Seiser, Poland’s Mariusz Prudel/Mikolaj Miszczuk and Dutchmen Jasper Bouter/Ruben Penninga.
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