Espinho, Portugal, July 5, 2018 – Beata Vaida and Adriana Matei were a young and promising Romanian pair progressing towards success in international volleyball. But right after their first medal on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, a gold at the Miguel Pereira event in Brazil in May, the bad news came – Adriana would no longer be able to compete for medical reasons.
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“Adriana has a genetic congenital problem. Her vertebrae are weak. The doctor told us that because of beach volleyball it appeared now. If she had continued with indoor volleyball, it would have appeared two or three years earlier,” their coach Adrian Pricop explained. “Now we are trying a new partner for Bea - Ariana Pirv. She is a good indoor player from the Romanian national team. We tried her at three tournaments to see if she can play beach volleyball at a high level.”
It was a very difficult restart for Beata with her new teammate. They lost their qualification matches at the Ostrava and Warsaw four-star stops, but those matches led them to their first victory – in the first qualification round of the Espinho four-star event taking place in Portugal this week.
Vaida and Pirv celebrate their first World Tour win as a team
“I am happy because we got our first win in three tournaments. It’s a start. It’s a new beginning,” 20-year-old Vaida said. “It is always hard to start a new collaboration. We did not have time to practice, because this problem occurred suddenly. It is not normal to start with a new teammate at such a high level, these four-star tournaments, but it happens... This wasn’t planned, but Adriana and I had already signed up and we did not want to withdraw.”
Although Vaida and Pirv lost their second match in Espinho and failed to qualify for the main draw, Beata remains optimistic.
“I am a little bit disappointed, because I am losing points we worked so hard to earn,” she said. “But I am young, so I have time in the next years to play at these high-level tournaments again.”
Matei and Vaida started their international career on the sand at a BVA Balkan Championship event in Plovdiv only three years ago. Less than a year later they were making headlines by reaching a prestigious fifth-place finish at the U21 World Championship in Lucerne. Early in 2017 they won gold at both of their participations in CEV Snow Volleyball European Tour events. Later in the year, they earned their first beach volleyball medals at a continental level, before making the next step in 2018 by winning World Tour gold in Brazil.
Just going to the South American beach volleyball Mecca was already a dream come true for the aspiring young Romanians. “We always wanted to go to Brazil, because they have the best beach volleyball players,” Vaida said. “We wanted to go there and ‘steal’ some of their beach volleyball. It was incredible. Brazilian people are really supportive people and really big fans and they made us feel like superstars. The victory was amazing for us. I was dreaming of an FIVB medal this year, but never about winning gold. It was the first medal for Romania, and it was gold! One week after that back at home we were answering questions in media interviews, so it was received quite well in our country.”
“We have two tournaments coming up – the U22 Balkan Championship and the U22 European Championship,” coach Pricop added. “For these, Bea will have a new partner who is young enough to play. Her name is Francesca Alupei and she is really tall and really talented. Both her parents are big champions in rowing, so she comes from a sports family. Bea and Francesca like each other and this is also very important. They have the right chemistry, which is key to success. As a team, I think they have even higher potential than that of Bea and Adriana. So we will start with a training camp in Constanta for a few days before the Balkan Championship. And if we have enough points, we would like to get back on the World Tour later this year.”
“I wish we had more beach volleyball teams in Romania, so it would be easier to switch partners, when necessary,” Beata said. “Francesca is 1.90m tall. On this team I will actually be the defender, which is perfect for me, because I like to defend. I hope that I can go back up to that level with my next partner. It will be difficult, but, anyway, I am happy because I play beach volleyball.”