Mersin, Turkey, May 6, 2018 – Katharina Schutzenhofer and Lena Plesiutschnig won their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold when they defeated Madelein Meppelink and Sanne Keizer in the Mersin 3-Star gold medal match on Sunday.
The Austrian pair needed to be at their best to beat the experienced Dutch duo 2-1 (18-21, 25-23, 15-12) in windy conditions on Turkey’s south coast.
“It's unbelievable, I’m speechless,” Plesiutschnig said. “It was such a tough game and the Netherlands played so well and in the first set we couldn’t finish and they scored some really good points.
“In the middle of the second set we knew that we would have to fight for every point if we wanted to win the gold medal and then we started to play.”
Schutzenhofer and Plesiutschnig began the day by beating Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova and Natalia Dubovcova in the semifinals to set up their clash against Meppelink and Keizer.
The two 24-year-olds have played together since 2010 and won bronze at the 2014 FIVB U21 World Championships. Mersin gold is their first on the World Tour and an improvement on their previous best which was bronze at the Sydney 2-Star tournament in 2017.
“I can’t describe it in words, I’m super happy,” Schutzenhofer said. “We are best friends and playing together and it is so much fun playing together and so much fun enjoying this moment together. Six wins in a row and I enjoyed every moment on the court.”
Silver is Meppelink and Keizer’s first World Tour medal since they teamed up in mid-2017. They both won gold with former partners, and their success in Mersin shows they are nearing their best.
Keizer only returned to full-time beach volleyball at the start of 2018 after she stepped away from the sport in 2014. She had enjoyed 12 years on the Tour having first made her name by winning the 2002 FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championships.
In the three years that the 32-year-old Keizer was away from professional sport she became a mother to twins – one boy, one girl – and completed her Masters of Criminal Investigation.
For all the news and scores from the Mersin 3-Star click here.
Slovakia’s Andrea Strbova and Natalia Dubovcova won the bronze medal with a straightforward 2-0 (23-21, 21-17) win over Brazil’s Liliane Maestrini and Josemari Alves.
Strbova said, “we were a little nervous at the beginning, but then we kept focused on our game and we began to find our rhythm and enjoy ourselves.”
Dubovcova won two bronze medals in 2014 alongside Dominica Nestarcova, but for Strbova it is her first medal on the World Tour.
“I already had three medals, but this is something special because it is my first with Andrea,” Dubovcova said. “I am happy that she can enjoy this victory, and after the semifinal it was hard to focus again after you’ve missed the opportunity to reach a final, but you have to focus as you have another goal in front of you.”