LANGKAWI, 16 APRIL 2017 – Cuba’s Diaz Gomez Nivaldo Nadir and Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard, as well as USA’s Emily Stockman and Kimberly Dicello, scored a page in Malaysia’s volleyball history book as the first champion teams for the double-gendered 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – Malaysia Open.
The Sunday semifinal and finals’ matches on Pantai Cenang left spectators awed when the teams put all their efforts and reputation on the line to secure the gold medal.
The top three for the men’s team were taken by champion Nivaldo/Gonzalez, first runner-up Austria’s Florian Schnetzer and Peter Eglseer, while the second-runner up was secured by Mart Tiisaar and Kusti Nolvak from Estonia.
On the women’s team, the gold medal was swept by USA’s Emily Stockman and Kimberly Dicello, while the silver and bronze were taken by Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova/Sarka Nakladalova and Austria’s Cornelia Rimser/Lena Plesiutschnig respectively.
Semifinals – Men’s Teams
After a tough battle with the United States and Spain yesterday, Cuba’s Diaz Gomez Nivaldo Nadir and Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez Bayard kicked-off the semifinals on a high note against Estonia’s Mart Tiisaar and Kusti Nolvak.
The Cubans took their game slow in the morning, giving the Estonians a chance to secure the first set with a 19-21 score. However, Nivaldo/Gonzalez soared in their play with powerful service and spikes to pin Tiisaar/Novak.
Spectators were presented with mixed emotions on their supporting teams when Nolvak started playing tricks on Nivaldo/Gonzalez. However, the pair were quick to see through their strategy and rebutted with heavy spikes. Cuba won with a tight margin of 19-21, 21-13, 15-13.
“It was a really tight game. The weather was really hot for us and that consumes energy physically and mentally,” said Nivaldo. “Estonia played well. They started on a high level and we strategised based on our advantage against them.”
“But we will try our best in the finals to grab the top podium spot.”
The second semifinals witnessed Serbia’s Lazar Kolaric and Djordje Klasnic battled out against Austria’s Florian Schnetzer and Peter Eglseer. Schnetzer/Eglseer faced a tight match as the Serbians come neck-in-neck in terms of skills and power.
In the end, it was the willpower of each team that landed the Austrians with a ticket to the finals. Both teams were eyeing for the grand prize.
Despite a tough first set, the Austrians led the second set with first four strong points. Those confidence enraged the Serbians to compete harder, but repeated mistakes took a toll on Kolaric/Klasnic.
“The heat and humidity makes the game difficult, but we have known and played against the Serbian team before this, and we are very happy to win against them,” said Schnetzer.
“Playing in this condition is really difficult, because we had some trouble jumping and it requires full concentration. But I had an amazing partner that covers my shortcomings during the game,” said Eglseer.
Semifinals – Women’s Teams
Crowd favourites Austria’s Nadine Strauss and Teresa Strauss faced defeat when Czech Republic’s Martina Bonnerova and Sarka Nakladalova overcame the pair with an impressive play.
The Strauss sisters took the first set at the 11:00AM match with a solid win of 21-17 for the first set. However, luck favoured the Czech pair when they stole the show with 14-21 and 9-15 for the second and rubber sets respectively.
The Austrians were continuously making mistakes in service and block, creating a communication breakdown that led to their defeat in the semifinal.
“We are very happy with the outcome. We could not find our game in the first set against them, but after some changes in tactics, it worked really well for our games,” said Nakladalova. This is the pair’s first international tournament in an FIVB sanctioned event.
The last semifinal match between Austria’s Cornelia Rimser and Lena Plesiutschnig and United States of America’s Emily Stockman and Kimberly Dicello stole the limelight of the entire tournament with a 3-set brawl.
Dicello injured her ankle on the first set but have determined to continue their match. While the remaining games seemed dificult for the American pair, their motivation and determination pushed their limits to land a spot in the finals against Bonnerova/Nakladalova. “I am very happy with the outcome and I am looking forward to the finals. I will play my best game and try to win the world tour title,” said Dicello.
Stockman/Dicello are the only team to play a 3-set match in the round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals. The pair won with a tight 21-17, 10-21, 16-18 scoreline.
Finals – Men’s Teams
Cuba’s Nivaldo/Gonzalez and Austria’s Schnetzer/Eglseer took the already heated court atmosphere to new heights with a memorable tournament between the two teams.
Competing neck-to-neck with ties since the beginning of both sets, the hour long match ended with a 2-0 win by the Cuban Olympians. The first timers in the tournament this season won their debut match with their first world tour title in Malaysia.
Audiences witnessed an intense first set when the two teams continued to tailgate with a tie every minute. It is until the end of the set when the Austrians lost their stamina against the Cubans and the weather, gave the final two points to the Cubans.
The most notable moment during the duel included a 1:30 mins save, spike and return of the ball that hyped the crowd with loud cheers and support for both teams.
Moreover, Nivaldo/Gonzalez lost their focus and concentration in the beginning that led to their struggle to overtake Schnetzer/Eglseer. However, they then found their synchronisation and momentum to secure a solid game against their opponent.
“This was a hard game for us. We have fought them before but never in a world tour. This is a big opportunity for us and the first gold in this tournament,” said Nivaldo. “This is also my first visit to Malaysia. The 33 hour flight was worthwhile with this achievement.”
Finals – Women’s Teams
The last match for this world tour stop in Malaysia was a world-class tournament between Czech Republic’s Bonnerova/Nakladalova and USA’s Stockman/Dicello. The rally after another rally can be deemed as the inaugural Malaysia Open’s most exciting match.
Stockman/Dicello stunned the crowd with a magnificent play and shocked the audience with a final minute turnaround when the pair was struggling to connect and communicate.
A closing match with a deuce on all three sets got the crowd on their feet at the end of the tournament.
“It was hot, a long two days of crazy weather, but it was amazing,” said Dicello. “This is our first win of the year and we are confident that we will perform better in our next stop in China.”
She also added that she will return to the Malaysia Open next year if there is a chance.
The Stockman/Dicello pair was also the only team that has showcased pure dedication and sweat with a three sets game for all their matches in the tournament.
The next FIVB World Tour 1-Star will take place in Pacific Harbour, Fiji, on 23 and 24 June 2017.
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The 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour – Malaysia Open is promoted and organised by E-Plus Global Sdn Bhd, sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball and Malaysia Volleyball Association; and supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia), Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia, Langkawi Development Authority (LADA), Majlis Bandaraya Pelancongan Langkawi, Majlis Daerah Langkawi, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa and Aseania Langkawi Resort & Spa, Astro Arena HD, Coca-Cola, Uber, SunPlay, Malay Mail, and Lifestyle Chiropractic.
|MEN’S TEAM||SET||Results Per Set|
|Nivaldo/Gonzalez (CUB) – Tiisaar/Nolvak (EST)||2-1||19-21||21-13||15-13|
|Kolaric/Klasnic (SRB) – Schnetzer/Eglseer (AUT)||0-2||19-21||19-21|
|WOMEN’S TEAM||SET||Results Per Set|
|Strauss N./Strauss T. (AUT) – Bonnerova/Nakladalova (CZE)||1-2||21-14||14-21||9-15|
|Rimser/Plesiutschnig (AUT) – Stockman/Dicello (USA)||1-2||21-17||10-21||16-18|
|MEN’S TEAM||SET||Results Per Set|
|Nivaldo/Gonzalez (CUB) – Schnetzer/Eglseer (AUT)||2-0||21-17||21-18|
|WOMEN’S TEAM||SET||Results Per Set|
|Bonnerova/Nakladalova (CZE) –