22Even though the weather forecasts were not that promising earlier this week, the 2016 edition of the CEV Satellite in Vaduz was crowned with success – approximately 9,000 fans attended the five-day-long tournament in the capital city of Liechtenstein. The entry lists were packed with elite teams and actions came to a close on Sunday with Switzerland’s Nico Beeler and Alexei Strasser eventually topping the podium of the men’s competition after Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova of the Czech Republic had claimed the women’s top honours on Saturday.
On Saturday night Kolocova/Kvapilova had upset the first-seeded team of the tournament, Sophie van Gestel and Jantine van der Vlist of the Netherlands, who in only a couple of weeks will represent their home country at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Swiss and Belgians tandems through to ‘grand finale’
On Sunday Beeler/Strasser and Belgium’s Dries Koekelkoren/Tom van Walle emerged victorious from two tight semi-finals. Beeler/Strasser had started their campaign earlier in the day playing countrymen Gabriel Kissling and Adrian Heidrich for a spot in the semis. Beeler and Strasser lived up to their status as Switzerland’s top team and routed their opponents 21-18, 21-12 to secure a spot in the semis where they came from behind to edge top-seeded Thomas Kunert and Christoph Dressler of Austria 14-21, 21-18, 15-12.
The Swiss kind of ‘botched’ the opening set but they came back strong in the remainder of the match. “We only had a one-hour break from the quarter-final to the start of the semi and we were just not ready to play again,” Beeler and Strasser explained. “We tried to step up and extended the match to a third set, where we were able to re-focus again and could win the match with a bit of luck on our side.”
Kadziola and Kujawiak crown one-off partnership with bronze
Poland’s Michal Kadziola/Kacper Kujawiak settled for the bronze medal after recording a 21-16, 21-16 win over Kunert/Dressler. The Vaduz Satellite was the first ever competition Kadziola and Kujawiak have entered as a team since Kujawiak’s regular partner, Michal Bryl, is currently injured.
“After losing the semi to the Belgians we just tried to stay focussed and to recover as quickly as possible from that setback,” they said.
Swiss complete comeback with gold medal winning performance
Beeler/Strasser trailed 1-4 in the opening set of the gold medal match with Koekelkoren and van Walle. The Swiss tandem fought back and closed in at 10-11 when the technical time-out was called. They eventually completed their comeback at 17-all with an ace by Nico Beeler before edging ahead at 18-17. Koekelkoren restored the balance at 19-all for the Belgians but a block by Strasser contributed a first set ball for the Swiss at 21-20. After that, Strasser’s serve touched the net and the Belgians could not reach the ball (22-20).
The second set was very close up until the technical time-out, with Strasser blocking to shape up an 11-10 lead for his side. Another block by Strasser stretched the Swiss lead to 17-15 and at this stage the Belgians asked for a time-out. At 19-16 a serve by Beeler was too much to stand for Koekelkoren and resulted in a block by Strasser for match point. Though the Belgians attempted a comeback, Nico Beeler cashed the fourth match ball for the Swiss to finish it all off at 21-19.
“We were really focussed and this applies especially to the key moments of the match,” Beeler and Strasser commented. “On top of this, our block definitely made the difference.”
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