Ostrava, Czech Republic, June 24, 2018 – Home heroines Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova made it all the way to the top of the podium at the Ostrava four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. It was the second gold and overall the fourth medal for the Czech pair on the World Tour, but each of the two players has previously had first place finishes with different partners.
The silver medals went to Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson. This is the team’s second consecutive podium finish after the third place at Itapema last month. For Bansley this is already the eighth medal on the Tour, but she has never won gold.
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The bronze medal was for Germany’s Karla Borger and Margareta Kozuch. While for the more experienced Borger it was the seventh medal on the Tour, for her teammate, a former German national team indoor volleyball player, this third place was the maiden podium finish.
The women’s podium at Ostrava
In front of the fully packed stands at the centre court in Lower Vitkovice, Hermannova and Slukova trailed in the first set of the final. The Canadians were in control and took the lead. Things changed in the second set. The Czechs took the initiative and cruised forward to tie the match. With the momentum now on their side, Hermannova and Slukova continued to dominate in the tie-breaker. Bansley and Wilkerson gave them a late scare denying the first three of four consecutive match points, but in the end the home triumph was accomplished – 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-13).
“We feel really amazing! It’s a dream come true! It’s great to win gold and it’s even greater to win it at home, in front of such an amazing crowd. We are kind of speechless – I don’t know how to describe our feelings,” Slukova said after the final.
“We played against Brandie and Heather three times already and we always lost in two sets. After losing the first set, this time we said ‘no, not again!’. We tried to stay focused and patient with our game, we used the energy, which was coming our way from outside the court, because the crowd here is super, we stuck together and we kept fighting through the end,” Hermannova added.
The bronze medal match was a hard-fought German duel, in which both teams had their ups and downs. In both sets Borger and Kozuch managed to emerge on top for a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) victory over Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider.
“It was a really tough match, as always against the Germans. The level was so high! It was a beautiful game to watch as well. We had situations we had to face that we didn’t have to face so far at this tournament,” Kozuch commented. “We are happy that we won this bronze against such a good team.”
Earlier in the morning, Hermannova and Slukova had a tough semifinal against Bieneck and Schneider, but with the incessant support from the packed stands, managed to win in straight sets – 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).
It was way more dramatic in the other semifinal. Borger and Kozuch won the first set and reached match point in the second, when Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson mounted a spectacular comeback on the way to a 2-1 (18-21, 22-20, 15-12) victory.