Swedish underdogs claim breakthrough win of the day in Göteborg
The opening day of the CEV Satellite in Göteborg featured many close, exciting matches and tiebreaks – as well as a few unexpected wins in the qualification round. Eight teams eventually secured their ticket to the Main Draw starting on Friday.
The first game of the day featured the Austrian duo Florian Schnetzer/Daniel Müllner – who last week had competed at the first-ever European Snow Volleyball Championship – taking on Armin Dollinger/Simon Kulzer of Germany. The Austrians came away with quite a comfortable win (21-11, 21-13) proving their lower seeding wrong and moving on to tomorrow’s Main Draw.
Temperature rose in the 6,300 square metre indoor facility in Göteborg as the Swiss 19-year-old Florian Breer/Yves Haussener challenged the higher-seeded Aliaksandr Dziadkou/Pavel Piatrushka from Belarus. After a slow and frustrating start, Dziadkou/Piatrushka managed to get a hold of the first set 21-18, digging many of the well-placed shots of the Swiss players. In the second set, Belarus started out aggressively and got a small lead, but Breer/Haussener really stepped up to the plate and after a time out at 3-6, they pulled out two blocks and a service ace and the score was level again. Thanks to a great court vision and a remarkable number of block points, proving you do not have to be the tallest player to be a great blocker, the Swiss youngsters took home the second set 21-16 and made sure there would be a third one to settle this battle. The teams went head to head up until the very end when a missed attack from Belarus sealed a 16-14 win for the Swiss duo, who were obviously happy after the game. “When we realised we won, it was a feeling of relief,” they said. “We have had a few losses in other qualification rounds so the win today was important. It was a good team to play, so to come out on top feels great. Tomorrow we are going to focus on playing our own game, and we know that if we reach our top level, we can put up a fight against all teams here.”
The next Swiss team to enter the court, Adrian Heidrich/Mirco Gerson, were not as successful as their compatriots were, when they faced Czech Republic’s Marcel Myslivecek/Martin Pihera. The Czech team managed to get a jump-start in the first set but Heidrich/Gerson changed gear and conquered the set 21-19. The start of the second set saw yet again the Czech team picking point after point, but this time managing to close the set to their advantage (21-13) thanks to a stable defence play. Myslivecek/Pihera won the third set 15-11 to secure their ticket to the Main Draw.
The fourth match of the day featured yet another Swiss team and yet another three set game. This time, Quentin Métral/Simon Hagenbuch played Norway’s Lars Tveit Retterholt/Svein Oddmund Solhaug. After one set going each way, first 21-17 to Switzerland and then 21-18 to Norway, the stakes were high in the third and all-deciding set. In the end, the Norwegians could secure their place in the Main Draw after taking the fifteenth and last point (15-13).
The fifth team to secure a spot in tomorrow’s play was Ruben Penninga/Tom van Steenis of the Netherlands who comfortably settled both sets against Cyprus’ Antonis Liotatis/Antreas Savvidis (21-10, 21-10).
The Norwegian team Christian Helland/Jørn Olav Gamlemoen were hoping to join their compatriots in the Main Draw, and they took the first set 21-18 against Andrea Abbiati/Tiziano Andreatta of Italy. The Italians had to cope with a big uphill battle as Helland/Gamlemoen took a big lead in the second set, but they managed to rise to the occasion and pulled off the comeback of the day. Taking home the second set 21-18, Italy played with the same intensity in the third set and closed it 15-13 in their favour.
Next up were Denmark’s Morten Overgaard/Daniel Jonassen versus Russia’s Sergey Gorbenko/Vasilii Ivanov. One set went each way and in the end, the numbers tipped over to Denmark’s advantage in the third set (15-11) much to the delight of the crowd, with many Danish fans visiting from the neighbouring country.
Finally, it was time for the main event of the day, the anticipation was growing and you could almost cut the tension with a knife – the local team Alexander Herrmann/Ludvig Simonsson entered the court as the lowest seed in the qualification, ready to take on top-seeded Philipp Arne Bergmann/Yannick Harms of Germany. The Swedish duo have been playing together for a very short time, except for one tournament in 2016. “We have not been playing a lot together before, so this week we have focused on adjusting our setting to each other. Finding our game, that has been the preparation for us,” they said. There were no doubts about where the crowd had their sympathies, cheering on every point made by the newly composed Swedish duo. “It’s nice when you shout something to each other on court but can’t even hear that because of all the cheering from the crowd,” Herrmann said afterwards, giving quite a depiction of the scene.
Bergmann/Harms, who won the gold medal in the FIVB 1-Star event in Oman earlier this month, were not much disturbed by either the opponents or the crowd in the first set and closed it comfortably 21-12. The second set, on the other hand, proved to be more of a struggle and the numbers shifted back and forth between the teams until Herrmann/Simonsson decided to step the game up one more level and snatch the win 21-15. The third set featured quite a few service errors from both teams, a point scoring “gator” courtesy of Herrmann and a full spectrum of emotions from everyone involved. The nail biter finished with Herrmann pulling off two monster blocks and the sensation was a reality. “In the first set, we didn’t really find our rhythm, but we got more and more used to their tempo and game as we went on. We weren’t really nervous, we knew we were the underdogs and had everything to win, nothing to lose,” the Swedes said after the game. Herrmann/Simonsson was the last team of the day to qualify for the Main Draw where they join no less than three other Swedish teams. Simonsson’s preparation plan for tomorrow is all set: “I’m going to stretch, eat, sleep, eat, sleep, eat, eat and eat.”
Göteborg is ready for a day filled with hard spikes, tricky float serves, nice digs and flowing emotions with the start of the Main Draw.
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