Aydin, Turkey, May 19 2018 – Teams from Serbia and Iran will contest the men’s final at the Aydin one-star event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour on Sunday, while tandems from Turkey and Russia will vie for the bronze medals.
In their second consecutive final on the Tour after last week’s Lucerne three-star silver, Stefan Basta and Lazar Kolaric will be vying for Serbia’s first-ever gold medal. To achieve that, they will have to overcome the resistance of Iran’s Rahman Raoufi and Abolhamed Mirzaali. This is the outcome of a long competition day, when Turkey celebrated its Youth and Sports Day, as the country’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk recognized the importance of sports and the virtues of competitive athletes.
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Starting the day directly from the quarterfinals, Basta and Kolaric beat Turkey’s youngsters Yusuf Ozdemir and Ali Cebeci 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) to qualify for the semis. Before that, Ozdemir and Cebeci had played a real thriller with Sweden’s David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig, eventually winning 2-0 (21-11, 31-29).
“Our opponents were good and it feels great to have won such a long and dramatic second set. Many thanks to the crowd, because with their help we were able to pull out this victory,” Ozdemir said.
Great save by Ali Cebeci
In the semifinals, the second-seeded Serbian duo beat fourth-seeded Ruslan Bykanov and Maksim Hudyakov of Russia 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) and secured a spot in the gold medal match.
For Raoufi and Mirzaali the day was a bit longer, as they had to resume their main draw campaign from the first single elimination round with a hard-fought 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-13) victory over Poland’s Mateusz Paszkowski and Mateusz Lysikowski. Then they continued their winning streak as they beat Sweden’s Martin Appelgren and Simon Boman 2-0 (23-21, 21-14) in the quarterfinals. In the semis, top-seeded Safa Urlu and Hasan Huseyin Mermer were able to come from behind to win the first set, but the Iranians displayed an incredibly strong blocking game and pulled off a 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-7) victory to silence the Turkish crowd.
Tough battle between Raoufi and Mermer above the net
Urlu and Mermer, who will be taking on Bykanov and Hudyakov for the bronze on Sunday, had given the home crowd something to cheer about after their 2-1 (21-17, 18-21, 15-11) quarterfinal victory over Spain’s Raul Mesa and Christian Garcia. “It feels good to win for our own home fans,” Mermer said.