Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst marked their first season as a partnership by winning the German Beach Volleyball Championships on Sunday.
The pair won silver at the most recent FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam, in Moscow and bronze at the CEV European Championships but this time the pair topped the podium with a win over Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler.
Walkenhorst dominated at the net, while Ludwig was in perpetual motion at the back of the court and swept up any balls that got past her partner. Despite the rain Ludwig and Walkenhorst beat the World Tour second placed team 2-0 (21-14, 21-18) for their third successive win over their compatriots.
“It's incredible, I really can’t believe it,” Walkenhorst said. “Laura’s experience really helped take off my initial nervousness.”
"The crowd was great and even with the heavy rain, no-one left,” Ludwig added. “It gave us more motivation, plus we knew we could play well in the rain and that was an advantage today. We knew we could beat Katrin and Ilka and we took that with us into the match. We have picked our tournaments throughout the season and fitted in training between them, so we knew we had enough power.”
Ludwig and Walkenhorst held off FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships silver medallists Karla Borger and Britta Buthe in the semifinal, while Holtwick and Semmler needed a tie-break against Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude to reach the final.
“Even after the two losses this season against Laura and Kira we were optimistic about the match,” Holtwick said. “We didn’t get into our game-plan and it is unfortunate that we weren’t able to win the title. Even so we are second in the World Tour rankings and overall have had a good season.”
For Buthe the bronze medal showed that she is nearing her best after missing a number of World Tour tournaments with an abdominal injury since the World Championships. The pair finished ninth at the Moscow Grand Slam and only had a short time to prepare for the German Championships.
“After the injury-induced break we only had two weeks to prepare together for the German Championships, so we are happy with the bronze medal,” Borger said.