Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka – Champions at #EuroBeachVolley after a great comeback
Moscow, Russia, August 10, 2019. A lifetime memory – this is how this Saturday afternoon will be remembered by the new champions at the Women’s #EuroBeachVolley – Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka (LAT), as this is the biggest success in their careers so far. Graudina and Kravcenoka seized a 2-0 victory over Kinga Wojtasik/Katarzyna Kociolek (POL) by doing almost the unimaginable as they were close to lose the first set and were struggling a lot to find their game, but then came back. In the bronze medal match, the Spanish Liliana Fernández Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMilian emerged victorious after a 3-sets Beach Volleyball thriller at the Luzhniki complex. In a match, full of twists and turns, Liliana and Elsa showed great determination to go home with the bronze and eventually did so winning at 2-1 over Joana Heidrich/Anouk Vergé-Dépre (SUI).
Gold medal match
Amazing awarding ceremony marked the end of the Women’s tournament of CEV EuroBeachVolley 2019 that was held from 5 to 11 August in Moscow. Fans came to see the brightest stars of the Women's European Beach Volleyball and were more to pleased to watch the final match that was full of interesting moments.
Graudina/Kravcenoka and Wojtasik/Kociolek actually met earlier in the tournament in the group stage, where in Pool D the Latvians seized a 2-0 win (24-22, 21-18).
On Saturday, in the most important match, the Latvian ladies started worse than their opponents – being nervous, they couldn’t show their best on the court in the first minutes of the matchup, letting also small details interact with their performance. On the other hand, Poland were comfortably leading, seeming that they were in control of the way how the set was unfolding. However, Graudina and Kravcenoka were able to ‘gather’ themselves and put a pressure on their opponents, breathing down their necks’ , being down with only one point in the score. Inspired, the Latvians started to believe in coming back and actually equalised. The Polish ladies had the chance take this set, but the Latvians saved. That’s when Graudina showed a great mental strength and with the result being 20-20, scored two aces in a row to open the match in Latvia’s favour.
It was a close call in the beginning of the second set as the play was going point for a point. Graudina and Kravcenoka were leading in most of the time with one point only, while their Polish opponents were trying to score a break point, keeping alive the intrigue in the match. Again in the decisive last minutes of the set, the Latvians were more stable on the court and closed the set and the match, writing a new page in the Latvian Beach Volleyball history, going home with the trophy. This gold medal comes exactly ten years after Latvia’s first and only gold medal in Women’s Beach Volleyball, won by Inese Jursone/Inguna Minusa in Sochi, Russia.
Both the new European champions - Anastasija Kravcenoka and Tina Graudina were pleased with the victory, realizing it has been a hard job to get to the highest peak in European Beach Volleyball: "Before coming to Moscow, I told my family our goal is to play in the final. They laughed a bit, but obviously told that they support us and believe in us. Match after match we won and we started to believe ourselves even more.", Anastastija Kravcenoka told media after the awarding ceremony.
"It feels like we accomplished a hard job. At this moment we are still tired, but tomorrow or next week it will really hit us - we are European Champions."
Despite the loss, Wojtasik and Kociolek were smiling after the final match: “We played good tournament, we were always pushing hard and we didn’t give up, so that’s what makes us happy. Of course, we are also happy that we take a medal. We were close to the gold, very close, but the Latvian girls were just better this match. In the end of the first set, we just didn’t manage to score this one point. In the second set we were losing in most of the time, then we got closer to them, but again in the end we had some “unlucky balls” – so close to score, but still out. In 10 years time we will remember this tournament with nice memories – it was rainy, but everything else was perfect.”
Bronze medal match
Since the very beginning of the first set, the Swiss players took control of the ball and step by step were building up point difference in their favour. Liliana and Elsa, on the other hand, were struggling to establish their rhythm and let some small errors affect the result in this set.
Although they started slightly better in the second set, Heidrich/Vergé-Dépré А. could not maintain the level and the Spaniards took advantage out of this. They improved their play, while the Swiss started making some unforced errors. In the decisive last minutes of the set, Liliana and Elsa were more precise in the details and, to delight of their fans, brought the match to a tie break.
The Spanish girls were storming out in the beginning of the tie break (5-1), being inspired by having equalised the set score. However, the Swiss could get back on their feet and with some good performance at the service line, got closer in the score (8-6). It was a moment of pressure for Liliana and Elsa, but they kept calm. With the result being 10-7 for the Spanish players, Anouk Vergé-Dépreé got hit by a ball in the stomach and the game was stopped. Feeling better, she decided to continue. Moments of emotions followed, as both sides put everything in the battle. In a game of mouse and cat, the Spanish struggled with their side out, but eventually put the end of the discussion in their favour and finish on third place in the Women’s #EuroBeachVolley.
“We really wanted this medal!", were the first words of the happy Spanish ladies. "We did our job right; both teams showed good level. The tie break was very tied, we fought until the end and, fortunately, we go home with the medals! It is always better to win the medal, you are much happier. We started very good in the third set, we were able to keep the 3-points difference after the medical time, but then they got closer. It was a moment of tension, we couldn’t do right in the side out, it was hard for our brains too. So, in the end, we are just very happy that we made it! We will have a lot of good memories from Moscow, but we still need to learn a lot. The semifinal was also a very tough match, we need to learn our lessons and to keep growing as a team.”
Anouk Vergé- Dépré after the match: “We are disappointed, after such a tough and close match. We did a great tournament, we missed the medal, but it was a great game.”