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Austria and Spain play the European final all over again
In the final round of pool play at the FIVB Moscow Grand Slam Austria’s Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger and Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan played the European final all over again.
In a thrilling point-by-point match that took over an hour on Friday the Schwaiger-sisters persevered to win this battle 2-1 (29-27 21-19 15-13), just like they did at the European Championships in Klagenfurt a few weeks ago.
“Yes, this was a repetition of the Klagenfurt final for sure”, Doris Schwaiger said. “It’s always a hard game against the Spanish girls. But we like to play each other and we sometimes practice together. Of course in the match you are not friends, but outside we are.”
Long rallies, great digs and strong emotions
Both teams gave the beach volleyball fans what they came for; long rallies, great digs and strong emotions. The first set was the tightest with Spain coming back from 16-20 to 20-20 and loads of opportunities for both teams to close the set before the Schwaigers did at 29-27.
After that Spain came back strong again to take the second set. “We made too many serving mistakes”, Doris Schwaiger said. “Of course we had to put some pressure on them because they were leading four points, but we risked too much in this case and that’s why we lost the second set.”
In the tiebreak it could have gone either way, but the Schwaigers proved to be the more stable team. “Our side-out was better”, Stefanie Schwaiger said. “We did not have a good start in the third set but then we became more stable and we had some great defence. So that was the reason we won. And we did not make so many mistakes on the serve anymore.”
With three wins the Austrian sisters topped the pool and are well on their way for another medal to add to their European gold and the silver they won at the Shanghai Grand Slam earlier this year.
“But we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves”, Doris Schwaiger said, after she joked about them being the favourites in Moscow.
“To say, ok, we are the new European champions and now we have to win everything, that doesn’t help us to play better. For us it helps to say, ok, next match, this team and focus on that and not on winning the tournament.”
Stefanie Schwaiger added: “Talita and Taiana won many tournaments and at the moment I think they are the best team. But there can be surprises. You saw what happened in Stare Jablonki at the World Championships. Everything can happen. It does not have to be the favourite team.”
Brazil’s Taiana Lima and Talita Antunes also topped their pool on Friday but not with straight wins. The only teams that accomplished that in the women’s competition were Germany’s recently reunited team Karla Borger and Britta Büthe and Brazil’s Liliane Maestrini and Barbara Seixas de Freitas.