Porto, Portugal, August 3, 2014 - Brazil’s Arthur Diego Mariano Lanci and George Wanderley Souto Maior reached the final of the FIVB U19 World Championships in only their first FIVB event. Their opponents, Ukraine’s Illia Kovalov and Oleh Plotnytskyi, played in an age group event before, but never reached a final so far.
Arthur and George Wanderley defeated Venezuela’s Tigrito Gomez and Peter Hernandez 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) in a very entertaining semifinal with great rallies. It was point-by-point towards the end of both sets, but the Brazilians proved to be the more focussed team in closing the sets.
“We couldn’t be happier, because this is our first time”, said 17-year old George Wanderley. “And now the girls are in the final too. That’s great of course. It’s such an important day for our country and for us. To have two podium places today makes us so proud.”
The win over the strong Venezuela team gave them a lot of confidence for the final, said Arthur. “It will be a tough game”, added George Wanderley. “But we will try our best to win because that’s want we want most.”Ukraine defeats the Netherlands
Kovalov and Plotsnytskyi eased to victory (21-19, 21-15) in their semifinal against new team Jasper Bouter and Tom van Steenis from the Netherlands.
The Ukrainians, who played last week at the U23 in Cyprus, proved to be the more experienced team. Bouter and Van Steenis only came close at the end of the first set.
In the second Kovalov and Plotsnytskyi took an early four point lead and with three blocks in a row towards the end of the game Kovalov secured a spot in the final.
“It’s amazing for us. We can’t describe it, because it’s very emotional”, Plotsnytskyi said.
Throughout the whole tournament the Ukrainians only lost one set, to Bulgaria. “But every match for us was hard, because it was very straining mentally”, Plotsnytskyi said.
“Especially this semifinal and the quarterfinal yesterday were very emotional games. But our coach gave us some directions and we tried to make the best of it.”
Kovalov competed at the U19 last year with a different partner, but did not get through qualification. Last week he and Plostnytskyi played their first event together at the U21 World Championships in Cyprus and finished 9th.
Plotsnytskyi: “It was a really great preparation, to grow and to play other countries. Now we will do our best and even more than that to win the gold medal here.”
It is only the second time in 13 years Ukraine reached the final of the U19 in both boy’s and girl’s competition. The only other time was in 2009 in Antalya when Popov and Samoday won the gold. Ukraine did win another U19 medal, bronze in 2007 in Myslowice.
Brazil advanced two teams to the boy’s U19 final before. In 2002 Borges/Salgado won gold and silver a year later. Brazil and Ukraine have never met in an U19 final before.