Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 28, 2019 – The men’s teams of Austria 2, Russia 3, Italy 2 and Russia 2, and the women’s teams of Sweden, Czech Republic 2, Lithuania and Germany went through Thursday’s qualifications successfully and advanced to Friday’s main draw at the historic first stop on the FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour in Wagrain-Kleinarl, co-organized with the CEV.
Felix Friedl, Arwin Kopschar and Maximilian Trummer, competing as Austria 2, made the home crowd proud, becoming the first ever team to progress from the qualifications to the main draw of a World Tour event in either gender. They started off with a hard-fought 2-0 (16-14, 17-15) shutout of Russia 2 and went on to master a 2-0 (15-12, 15-10) victory over Slovenia and top the standings in Pool B, thus securing their spot in the men’s main draw.
“Crazy!” they exclaimed. “We did not expect it. We had strong opponents, especially in the first game, when we played against Russia. It was a close match and now we are satisfied and happy that we made it to the main draw. It will be hard, but we are having fun here. It is a great tournament. We are absolutely stoked that we host this historic event in Austria. We hope that this sport gets bigger and bigger and that’s why we are competing here.”
In a closely contested Pool A, both Russia 3 and Germany outplayed Cyprus before facing each other for the top spot in the standings. In a dramatic encounter, the Russians persevered to claim a 2-1 (15-10, 12-15, 15-13) and advance.
Much the same story unfolded in Pool C, where Italy 2 and Switzerland locked horns in a crucial battle, after both teams went past Belgium. In a 48-minute duel, the Italians emerged with a nail-biting 2-1 (15-11, 11-15, 17-15) tie-breaker victory to move forward.
The last spot was decided in a second-round Pool D, involving the three runners-up from the first round. Russia 2 grabbed it by defeating both Germany, by 2-1 (16-14, 12-15, 15-9), and Switzerland, by 2-0 (15-8, 15-13).
Sweden were the first women’s team to claim a main draw spot after winning their first two matches in the double-elimination qualifiers. Nina Grawender, Elisa Niederhaus and Talar Kirkor started their campaign with a 2-0 (15-8, 15-13) win over Romania 1 and celebrated their advancement after a 2-1 (15-12, 11-15, 15-12) victory over Lithuania.
“We are so happy and so proud of ourselves!” the elated Swedes said upon qualifying. “We are so emotional! We had to talk a lot and collaborate within the team... A lot of love and team spirit – these are the keys.”
Czech Republic 2 followed suit with a 2-0 (16-14, 15-8) win over Poland and a 2-0 (15-11, 15-9) shutout of Germany. The remaining two qualifiers emerged from the losers’ bracket. Germany came back to a 2-0 (15-12, 15-6) win over Romania 1, while Lithuania overcame the tough challenge presented by Poland on the way to a 2-0 (15-11, 20-18) victory.
Quick links - Snow volleyball: