Wagrain-Kleinarl, Austria, March 30, 2019 – Three teams, one women’s and two men’s, who emerged from the qualifications on Thursday, made it all the way to Sunday’s semifinals of the Wagrain-Kleinarl stop on the 2019 FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour, co-organized with the CEV. In addition to Czech Republic 2, the squads of Argentina, Russia 1 and United States will battle for the spots on the women’s podium. Russia 3 and Austria 2 will be in the company of the first teams of the same two countries in the men’s semifinals.
Argentina had a great day on the snow court by the Flying Mozart mountain station. Julieta Puntin, Cecilia Peralta, Maria Eugenia Tuliz and Maria Virginia Zonta were the only women’s team to win two matches on Saturday and make it from the first knockout round through to the semifinals. In the morning, the South Americans took a hard-fought 2-0 (17-15, 15-13) win over Japan and in the afternoon they came back from a set down and a solid deficit in the tie-breaker to a 2-1 (14-16, 15-13, 15-12) upset of Czech Republic 1.
However, Czech Republic 2 will represent their country in Sunday’s semifinals. Anna Dostalova, Diana Zolnercikova and Martina Jakubsova, who started their journey from the qualifications on Thursday, mastered an emphatic 2-0 (15-8, 15-7) quarterfinal victory over Germany to make the last four.
“We feel amazing! The conditions here are amazing, as every year, and we are enjoying every moment,” the Czechs exclaimed after qualifying for the semis. “The matches were not as easy as it may seem. We had to play two matches more than the other main draw teams. They were tough matches, but we fought well and we played the way we wanted, with good tactics. We are proud of our team.”
The Czech team will meet USA in one of the semifinals on Sunday morning at 09:30 local time. The Americans made it after a 2-0 (15-10, 17-15) quarterfinal win over Lithuania. In the other semifinal, Argentina will play against Russia 1, who managed a 2-0 (15-10, 15-6) shutout of Sweden.
Players from all five continents posed together for this memorable photo from the first World Tour event
The only African representatives in the men’s tournament, the team of Cameroon, stirred quite a sensation by delivering a 2-1 (14-16, 15-11, 15-12) come-from-behind victory over Italy 1 to advance to the quarterfinals. The Africans put on quite a battle in their match-up with Austria 2 and were not far from launching another solid comeback, but it was not to be. The home team won 2-0 (15-10, 17-15) and progressed to the semis.
“Every game was a really hard fight for us,” Maximilian Trummer of Austria 2 commented. “At first, we didn’t know where each of us was standing, but then we won the first game and kept on winning. We can’t believe it that now we are in the semifinals, especially at home in Austria, at this historic tournament. We are absolutely stoked. The home crowd was crazy. I’ve only seen this on television before. I want to thank them, because without them we wouldn’t be as successful.”
Packed centre court stands during the Austria 2 vs. Cameroon quarterfinal
Austria 1 also received well-deserved cheers from the home crowd as they managed to defeat Brazil with legendary Giba and Marcio Araujo on the squad. The Austrians were quite convincing on the way to a 2-0 (15-12, 15-11), which was quite emotional for them. In the spirit of fair play, Florian Schnetzer took the microphone and thanked the opponents for gracing this tournament with their presence.
In a duel for a spot in the big final, Austria 2 will lock horns with the other team, coming from the qualifications – Russia 3. Adel Kayumov, Viktor Markov and Vitalii Shabalin cruised to a speedy 2-0 (15-9, 15-7) shutout of Italy 2 before mastering a spectacular 2-1 (13-15, 15-12, 15-13) comeback victory in their quarterfinal against USA.
In the other semifinal, Austria 1 will battle it out with Russia 1. In an all-Russian quarterfinal clash, Pavel Rakusov, Yury Bogatov, Nikita Kuzmin and Petr Bakhnar emerged with a nail-biting 2-1 (15-13, 6-15, 18-16) win over Vsevolod Bobrikov, Aleksandr Kramarenko, Vladislav Mikhalev and Vadim Smorchkov of Russia 2.
Both men’s semis are scheduled for 10:20 local time on Sunday. The last competition day’s programme will follow with the bronze medal matches for women and for men and will culminate with the women’s final at 13:00 and the men’s gold medal match at 14:00.
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