Moscow, Russia, August 10, 2018 – Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart needed to be at their best to reach the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Moscow 4-Star quarterfinals on Friday.
The Swiss duo took on the Netherlands’ European champions Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer and won 2-0 (21-17, 21-17). They will now take their place in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
“On the court we didn’t have great control of the game,” Betschart said. “I think we served really well and that put their pass and set under pressure, so we always had chance to block and defend them and that is why it was straight-sets.”
The teams have become familiar opponents in recent weeks. Huberli and Betschart knocked Meppelink and Keizer out of the Gstaad 5-Star in July, but the tables were turned in the Netherlands 2018 CEV European Championships gold medal match when the Dutch pair won 2-0 (21-16, 26-24).
The European silver was Huberli and Betschart’s second major podium finish of 2018 following their bronze at The Hague 4-Star in January. In their two previous seasons together they won two bronze, one at the Klagenfurt Major in 2016 and one at the Porec 5-Star in 2017.
“We won in Gstaad, then lost in the Netherlands so it was 1-1,” Betschart said. “We are pretty much on the same level and they are in really good shape. They played really well in Vienna (5-Star) so we felt they were the favourties for this game, but that was good for us because it kept us relaxed on the court.
“I don’t think this year was better than last year. We had some better results last year and it hasn’t been an easy year for us. We’ve had to fight a lot and we’ve had some bad defeats, but I think we’ve both improved as players and as a team. Year by year you get better, you know each other better and you can help each other get better.”
Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina ensured that the host nation will have a presence in the quarterfinals.
The Russians beat Finland’s Anniina Parkkinen and Taru Lahti 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) to reach their first World Tour quarterfinals having fallen in the previous round seven times in 2018.
Makroguzova, 21, and Kholomina, 20, are one of Russia’s up and coming teams. They won FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships silver in 2016 and 2017, and less than a month ago they won gold at the CEV U22 European Championships.
“It was a very difficult game for us,” Kholomina said. “We haven’t been able to reach this round this season so it is great to have done it in Moscow. We were nervous about this match, but now are very happy with the result.”
The Moscow 4-Star is the last 4-Star tournament in the 2017-18 season, and runs from August 8-12. The final tournament to take place is the Hamburg 2018 FIVB World Tour Finals that run from August 15-19.