Wind the name of the game in Larnaca

Wind, wind, wind. That was the main talking point of the first day of play in the 2017 184224_IMG_3005CEV Beach Volleyball Satellite, held in Larnaca.

Nearly all the players who spoke to the press earlier today were worried about the heat, but it was the wind, which affected the majority of the eight qualifying matches. Russia with two teams, the Ukraine, Romania, England, Germany, the Netherlands and Finland were the winning teams that earned qualification into tomorrow’s main draw.

The Netherlands vs Serbia clash was without a doubt the best of today’s order of play.  The eventual winners Annemieke Driessen and Ilke Meertens enjoyed a happy return to Cyprus having played in Satellite events in Paphos in 2010 and 2011 respectively.  The Dutch team had many difficulties at the start adjusting to the windy conditions, something that their Serbian opponents, Marija Milosevic and Milena Matic took full advantage of.

The Dutch pair soon recovered and the fans were already looking forward to the deciding set.  Milosevic and Matic having the support of a small group of their compatriots gave their best performance, but in the end, it did not prove enough.  Driessen and Mertens made fewer mistakes in crucial points of the set, which they admitted afterwards.

“We felt that at some point of the match we will get our chance, and that experience will play a vital part in the final outcome,” said Driessen. “They proved more than worthy opponents and they pushed us all the way.  The fact that we lost 4 match-points near the end didn’t affect us, but we had to dig deep in order to win,” said the smiling and relieved Mertens. Milena Matic obviously was disappointed in the end. “We gave everything we had, what more can I say. If we repeat performances like this, our future will be even brighter.”

The twins from Ukraine, Inna and Iryna Makhno, during their morning press briefing did not hide their optimism of achieving first place.  At the end of their winning match with Urte Andriukaityte and Irina Zobnina from Lithuania, they had the same belief and both agreed that they could go all the way until the end in winning ways. “We are happy with our game, despite losing the second set. We are looking forward to the next matches and still believe that we can celebrate something big in Larnaca, why not finishing first.”

Twins to watch out for

The participation of twins is once again a notable appearance in a Beach Volleyball tournament, hosted by Larnaca.  Inna and Iryna Makhno representing Ukraine are aiming high at the three-day CEV Satellite, the qualification matches of which began Friday.

“The fact that we finished third in each of the last three Satellite events gives us strength and an extra incentive to go for gold in Cyprus,” said Inna. “We realise that we are not playing alone in this tournament and we will be facing stiff competition from other teams, we are however optimistic that we will do well, why not first place,” Iryna added with a smile.

The twins, Katerina and Anastasia Yiasoumi, who made Cyprus proud in last year’s FIVB World Championship by finishing in ninth place, are also looking forward to this year’s event. “This is not an under-age tournament like 2016, so we know what to expect in a women’s tournament with very high-quality teams taking part. We have been improving our performances all the time, according to our coaches, something which has helped us psychologically,” Katerina said.

“We have been practicing well with my sister with daily routines. We surely want to give the home crowd something to cheer about, but we must try and keep our feet firmly on the ground.  We are proud to be chosen by our coach to represent our country in such a big event, we are still in the learning process and will give our best to claim the highest position,” Anastasia added.

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