Norway’s Ane Hjortland against France’s Alexandra Jupiter over the net
Lucerne, Switzerland, May 9, 2018 – The three-star double-gender event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour in Lucerne got underway on Wednesday. A gorgeous sunny day on the shores of Lake Lucerne was cooled off with a late afternoon thunderstorm, but eventually eight women’s and eight men’s pairs emerged victorious from the second qualification round with tickets to the main draw, starting on Thursday.
Two women’s teams, Norway’s Victoria Faye Kjolberg and Ane Guro Tveit Hjortland and Japan’s Chiyo Suzuki and Reika Murakami, persevered through two tie-breakers each along the way from the first qualification round through to the main draw.
In the morning session, Kjolberg and Hjortland came back from losing a tough first set against Portugal’s Gabriela Coelho and Vanessa Paquete to turn things around to a 2-1 (20-22, 21-17, 15-8) victory. This match lasted 48 minutes and proved to be longest women’s match of the day. In the afternoon, the Norwegians faced another tough opponent, the French pair Alexandra Jupiter and Alexia Richard. This time Jupiter and Richard had to fight back from a set down to tie the game, but Kjolberg and Hjortland dominated the decisive third set to fix the win at 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-10). This is the second time in a row the Norwegian duo succeed through the qualifications after they did so at the three-star tournament in Mersin a week ago.
“It feels really good! We played two games with a tie-break today. We won and we made the main draw, two times in a row,” commented Kjolberg. “We hope we can do it again and reach the ninth place or better.”
Suzuki and Murakami started their day with a 2-1 (21-12, 16-21, 15-10) win against USA’s Delaney Knudsen and Kendra Vanzwieten. In the decisive round, the Japanese duo faced China’s Xinxin Wang and Bing Bai and managed to come from behind on the way to a 2-1 (16-21, 21-12, 15-12) victory.
The other six teams that made the main draw through Wednesday’s qualifications all passed through the first round with a bye and had to win one match each to move on. These were Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Da Silva and Andressa Cavalcanti Ramalho, Germany’s Teresa Mersmann and Cinja Tillmann, USA’s Lane Carico and Lara Dykstra, Russia’s Olga Motrich and Yulia Abalakina, Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini and Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova and Sarka Nakladalova.
On the men’s side, it was Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric and Stefan Basta who proved to be the ‘masters of the third set’, winning two of those in their qualification matches to advance to the main draw. First, they disposed of Dutchmen Ruben Penninga and Mees Blom with a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) win. Then, they took 54 minutes to overcome the resistance of Slovenia’s Nejc Zemljak and Jan Pokersnik. Having won the first set, in the second the Serbs failed to convert three match points and allowed the match into a crucial third set. The spectacular battle continued into the tie-breaker with Kolaric and Basta eventually emerging with a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) victory.
Great save by Lazar Kolaric
“We were really calm in those important moments at the end of the sets and that was good for us. I just want to continue this way. We will try to give our best,” Stefan Basta commented.
“Yes, it is always the hardest to play qualifications, but we made it and it feels awesome!” Lazar Kolaric said. “Last week in Turkey our main goal was just to qualify for the main draw, but then we made it all the way to the fifth place. Now we are on our way – we are winning this tournament!”
All the other seven teams successful in the qualification tournament did not drop any sets along the way to the main draw. The three highest seeds - Konstantin Semenov and Ilya Leshukov from Russia, Nils Ehlers and Lorenz Schuemann from Germany and their compatriots Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler - all passed the first round with a bye before winning their second-round games in straight sets. Four pairs - Spain’s Raul Mesa and Christian Garcia, USA’s Sean Rosenthal and Chase Budinger, France’s Olivier Barthelemy and Romain Di Giantommaso and Germany’s Philipp Arne Bergmann and Yannick Harms - managed two shutouts each to progress to the main draw.