Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Pavel Piatrushka greet each other during the final match
Ljubljana, Slovenia, December 2, 2018 – Aliaksandr Dziadkou and Pavel Piatrushka lived up to their status as the #1 seeds in the main draw bracket and won gold at the Ljubljana winter edition one-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. This was not only the first ever World Tour title for Belarus, but also the first ever final four finish for any team from the European country in either gender. For Piatrushka the success came at his debut appearance on the Tour.
Selcuk Sekerci and Safa Urlu also claimed their maiden World Tour medals. The third-seeded Turks reached the final at Ljubljana, but had to settle for silver.
Paul Burnett and Maximilian Guehrer completed the podium. The pair of young Australians, seeded ninth in the main draw, reached the World Tour medals for the first time as well.
The men’s podium at Ljubljana
Dziadkou and Piatrushka did not enjoy a good start at Ljubljana, losing their first Pool A match to bottom-seeded Slovenian wild cards, but then got their act together and won their next five games at the Ludus Sports Park indoor venue, dropping only one set on the way to the top of the podium. In the final match, the Belarusians claimed a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) victory over Sekerci and Urlu in 33 minutes of play.
“It was very hard for us, because we lost our first match and then we had to play three matches on the second day, so we were very tired. Fortunately, we won today and we are happy,” Aliaksandr Dziadkou commented upon winning the gold medal match.
The other three games on Sunday were all three-set affairs. In the third place match, Burnett and Guehrer lost the first set to fifth-seeded Germans Robin Sowa and Eric Stadie, but fought their way back to a nail-biting 2-1 (16-21, 21-9, 16-14) victory to claim the bronze.
“We did come a long way and it was a big risk coming all this way to play one tournament. It took a lot of money, time and dedication, so we are really happy to bounce back from the disappointing loss in the semifinal and play some of our best beach volleyball in those last two sets to get the win. We couldn't be happier,” an elated Paul Burnett exclaimed.
In the longest lasting game of the day, the 54-minute semifinal battle between Germany and Belarus, Sowa and Stadie also failed to hold on to their one-set lead, as Dziadkou and Piatrushka came back to snatch a 2-1 (17-21, 22-20, 15-10) win. The other semifinal also lasted well beyond 50 minutes. Sekerci and Urlu narrowly lost the first set to Burnett and Guehrer, but bounced back to take the next two and celebrate with a 2-1 (22-24, 21-18, 15-13) victory.