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Beach volleyball: Gold for the best


News - Beach volleyball: Gold for the best

The finals and award ceremony for the male and female beach volleyball tournaments at the European University Games 2016 were held this afternoon at Lake Jarun.

In the women’s tournament Norway prevailed, with the team from the University of Bergen winning gold and the team from the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences taking silver. Bronze was won by the girls from the University of Warsaw’s first team.

For men, the pair from the University of Linz achieved the coveted gold, with Vilnius University placing second and winning silver, and it was to the University of Zagreb that the bronze medal was awarded to.

The matches had begun at 15.00, with the third place match for women, followed by the third place men’s, then women’s finals, finished with the men’s finals.

Warsaw 1’s bronze medal was achieved after they beat the University of Linz’s female team 2:0 (30:28, 21:19). The teams were well matched, Warsaw consistently holding the lead throughout the match but with Linz close on their heels at every point, resulting in a drawn out first set. After winning the girls, exhausted, declined to comment, and instead promptly headed to the lakeside to relax.

Next on the court were the men’s teams from the University of Zagreb and the University of Mainz, with the home team snatching a 2:0 victory for bronze, (21:18, 21:17). Mainz began with a good hold on the lead, with a vocal crowd cheering them on, but Zagreb’s boys, Mate Gladurić and Filip Silć pulled ahead to win. The boys spoke well of their opponents – one of whom has a knee injury – saying that, despite injury, they were good. Their victory met with many congratulations from spectators and fellow Zagreb athletes.

The women’s finals saw two Norwegian teams pitted against one another, the University of Bergen and the Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, with the former winning 2:0 (21:15, 25:23). This is the second the teams have met in this tournament, Bergen winning 2:0 previously as well, so it was perhaps little surprise when they secured a comfortable first set win. However, the second set was far more volatile, with the NSSS taking an early lead and holding on, but Bergen eventually caught up to make a 20:20 draw, each team edging forward until Bergen won 25:23, thus winning the gold.

“I don’t know how I feel, I’m just so happy, it’s amazing.” said Bergen player, Kjølberg, “the second set was so nerve-wrecking, I’m very glad it didn’t have to go to a third set.”

It was the pair’s second tournament together, “the last one we played was not so good, so it is nice to see us progress together.”

In terms of celebrations, she was simply keen to spend time with her partner and rest, “It’s been nice to play here in Zagreb, and in the warm weather, but now we are very tired.”

The last match of the day, and of the tournament, was the men’s finals, which saw the Austrian University of Linz up against the Lithuanian Vilnius University, which saw the end result 2:0 (21:19, 21:17). The Linz players, Florian Schnetzer and Peter Eglseer held a strong lead in both sets, Vilnius often on their heels but faltering towards the end of the second set, leaving them with silver and second place, and gold for Linz.

“Croatia is awesome, and to win here is awesome.” said the Austrian players. The duo had only been playing together for a short time, “About two and a half months, but he’s one of my best friends, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity and play by his side, and have this awesome summer. It’s incredible.”

Unlike the quiet celebrations desired by the women’s gold-medal winners, the boys promised theirs to be “crazy”.

The awards ceremony began just after 19.00, following the men’s final. In attendance were the volunteers who have been working hard at the courts, referees, several officials, and, of course, the winning athletes, with commentary given by the one, DJ Luka. Attending in official capacity and presenting the medals and awards were Mrs Biserka Vrbek, Member of the Executive Board of the European Fair Play Movement, Mr Matjaž Pečovnik, EUSA Secretary general, Mr Milan Pavelić, head of Department for Sport at Zagreb Municipality, Mr Luca Vrdolsak, President of the Zagreb Beach Volleyball Federation, and finally, Mrs Daniela Erni Ruoss, EUSA Technical Delegate.

Most Valuable Player was awarded to Bergen’s Alva Victoria Faye Kjølberg for women, and Florian Schnetzer from the University of Linz for men.

The Enno Harris Fairplay Award was given to the men’s team from the Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences after willingly waiting for their first opponents, the Polytechnic Institute of Porto to arrive, after the latter were delayed in arrival because of flight issues. Wroclaw could have accept a win by default but instead waited to play the team, deeming it to only be fair.

The ceremony was concluded with photographs with the players, officials and volunteers, bringing the 2016 tournament to a close. Next year, however, it’s not going far, the 2017 European University Championships will be held in Split, in the south of Croatia.

Well done to all competing teams, we hope they have enjoyed themselves at the European Universities Games 2016 and their stay in Zagreb!

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