2017 FIVB BEACH VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – VIENNA
- July 28 to August 6
- Vienna Centre Court, Vienna, Austria
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Wild card entry Maarten van Garderen and Christiaan Varenhorst has made history as the No. 45 ranked duo became the lowest seed ever to make the Beach Worlds Final Four. The Dutch pair downed No. 9 seed Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain, rallying for the 20-22, 21-19, 16-14 win.
“Medals are eternal,” Varenhorst said. “Fifth and ninth would have been good for us but still you want more, especially for me, I’ve been in the situation of playing for medals. My partner is just picking it up so great, I’m just so happy to play for medals again.
“In general our block defense is really good, we pick up a lot of rally points so we make up for our mistakes. Today and also yesterday it showed that we can fight like tigers, we can keep on fighting even if we are three points behind. That is the deciding factor.”
After trailing 9-5 in Set 1, the Spainards rallied to the tie the score at 12 and 15. The Dutch countered to go ahead 19-17 and had the first set point chance at 20-19, but were denied by a kill and back-to-back blocks by Gavira.
Varenhorst/van Garderen shook off the loss and boasted a 14-10 lead in Set 2 after winning a challenge on a block touch by the Spainards. An ace by Herrera narrowed the gap to one at 19-18, but the Dutch recovered, winning it by tooling the block for the 21-19 victory.
Gavira/Herrera jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the decisive third set, but a strong blocking effort and a deep corner shot cut the margin to one at 9-8. Down 12-10, the Dutch used a cross court shot, a stuff block by Varenhorst and a hitting error to grab a 13-12 advantage. A line shot gave the underdogs their first shot at the match at 14-13, but it was denied by a Gavira kill. Van Garderen tooled the block and Vanderhorst pounded a shot off the net that flipped over and landed safely to give the Dutch the unlikely win.
“The key was the last five points, I made two or three mistakes in sideout,” Gavira said. “We lost by two points, it was a very close match. We really wanted to play in the finals here and we believed we would. We were really, really close. We know Varenhorst well, his partner we didn’t know. Our plan was to try to block the defender. Today I didn’t feel good blocking him though. If we made one or two more blocks I think we would have won.”
Varenhorst and van Garderen took advantage of 14 Spainish miscues, including eight service errors, while committing just 11 in a match decided by just two points (57-55). Varenhorst put up three blocks, while van Garderern downed 28 kills in the victory, painting the lines and mixing it up with cross courts, deep shots and even some strong line shots.
The Dutch pair take on the highest remaining seed, No. 4 Evandro Goncalves and Andre Stein of Brazil on Sunday after Evandro/Andre topped No. 13 seed Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk from Canada in a three-set rally.
Van Garderen has only been playing beach volleyball for a few months since making the transition from the indoor game.
“Physically it’s way more intense, the games are shorter, moving in the sand, jumping in the sand takes much more energy,” Van Garderen said. “I felt in the first weeks … I thought I was physically in shape. Moving in the sand is different plus you are half of a team. They were putting everything on me and I was struggling, obviously. I don’t know how I did it but now I switched to this guy (Varenhorst), he’s been one of the best players for so many years already. The guys around me are so encouraging, so positive even on negative moments we’ve had in the past. I was really struggling, to be honest. I don’t know where it comes from. It’s just maybe in the group stage we beat some good teams, we eliminated the Brazilian team (Alvaro/Saymon) which placed first. We looked at our game it looked smooth and it gives you confidence, freedom in your mind to just go and see what happens.”