Ukraine’s Lunina and Lazarenko earn silver; Switzerland’s Bossart and Zobrist push from qualifiers to bronze
Teams receiving financial support from the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment programme finished on the podium at last week’s Beach Pro Tour Madrid Futures women’s tournament. Ukraine’s Diana Lunina and Tetiana Lazarenko and Switzerland’s Muriel Bossart and Shana Zobrist took silver and bronze, respectively, right below top-seeded home favourites Liliana Fernаndez and Paula Soria in the final standings.
Through an ongoing Memorandum of Understanding with Ukraine, the FIVB is currently covering Lunina and Lazarenko’s participation expenses, including travel, accommodation, food and local transportation, for international events. The support recently paid off with a brilliant campaign, which saw the Ukrainian duo secure second place in Madrid, their first Beach Pro Tour medal since they paired up at the start of this season.
Tetiana Lazarenko in action (Photo credits: cev.eu)
19-year-old Tetiana Lazarenko has had a highly promising career so far. Alongside her previous partner Anhelina Khmil, she became the U21 World Champion in 2021 and the U20 and U18 European Champion in 2022 and 2020 respectively. They also earned numerous medals from other age-category World and Continental Championships and FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour and Beach Pro Tour events. 30-year-old Diana Lunina also secured a number of world-level medals with her previous partners Maryna Hladun and Valentyna Davidova before joining forces with Lazarenko.
On the way to their first joint international podium, third-seeded Lunina and Lazarenko went through their first three main draw matches in Madrid without losing a set: 2-0 (21-11, 21-11) over Spain’s Nazaret Florian and Carolina Fernandez Da Silva, 2-0 (21-11, 24-22) over Muriel Bossart and Shana Zobrist in pool play, and 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) over Lithuania’s Ieva Dumbauskaite and Skalve Krizanauskaite in the quarterfinals. The Ukrainians met the Swiss pair again in the semifinals, which is when they lost their first set of the tournament, but came back to claim a 2-1 (16-21, 21-15, 15-11) victory and advance to the final. The pair gave it their all in the final but lost to top-seeded Liliana and Paula 2-0 (21-15, 22-20).
Meanwhile, Swiss Volley receives coach support for its beach volleyball pairs through the Volleyball Empowerment programme. Their representatives at the Madrid Futures, 23-year-old Shana Zobrist (pictured attacking in the main photo, credits: cev.eu) and 2021 U18 European champion Muriel Bossart, 17 years old, started their Beach Pro Tour debut as a pair from Thursday’s qualifiers, when they knocked out two opponents to advance to the main draw.
They won their first Pool C match against Sweden’s Tina Thurin and Sanna Thurin 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 15-6) before losing to Lunina and Lazarenko for the first place in the pool. Their journey to the bronze medals went through another four hard-fought battles, all decided in tie-breaker sets. Bossart and Zobrist mastered a 2-1 (21-14, 19-21, 15-6) eighthfinal victory over Dutch qualifiers Leanne van Vegten and Kirsten Broring and produced a sensational 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 15-11) upset of second-seeded Spaniards Belen Carro and Angela Lobato in the quarterfinals. After losing their semifinal to the Ukrainian duo, the 11th-seeded Swiss team came back from a set down in the third-place match against fifth-seeded Wies Bekhuis and Desy Poiesz of the Netherlands to celebrate a 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 16-14) victory and the bronze medals.
For tournament winners Liliana Fernаndez and Paula Soria, it was also the first-ever Beach Pro Tour medal as a team. After returning from her second baby break, 36-year-old three-time Olympian Liliana teamed up with 30-year-old Paula for the start of the current season. So far, the new tandem had appeared only at Elite16 and Challenge events, but made their Futures debut at home in Spain winning the gold without losing a single set in the tournament.
The podium at the women’s Futures tournament in Madrid (Photo credits: rfevb.com)
Real Federacion Espanola de Voleibol President Agustin Martin Santos was among the award presenters at the closing ceremony of the tournament.
A total of 28 women’s teams from 16 different countries took part in the tournament.