Not only did they get to see 16 games from the CEV Satellite. Simultaneously, four tournaments at the national level are taking place as well, and as many as 112 teams have been competing in the world’s largest indoor facility for Beach Volleyball.
Early birds coming to watch the first games of the day were able to see top-seeded Mykola Babich and Iaroslav Gordieiev from Ukraine taking on Danish players Daniel Thomsen and Kristoffer Abell. Yet another game against a top-seeded team for the Danish pair, who on Thursday had qualified for the Main Draw by edging Germany’s Sven Winter/Alexander Walkenhorst. This time Thomsen/Abell could not achieve a second miracle and the Ukrainians strolled to a comfortable 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) win.
The day proceeded with the Finnish team Santeri Siren/Jyrki Nurminen defeating Russians Maxim Sivolap/Igor Velichko in a three setter (17-21, 21-17, 15-12).
The most talked-about team after Thursday’s qualification, Germany’s Sebastian Fuchs/Eric Stadie went up next. This time Murat Giginoglu/Safa Urlu from Turkey stood on the other side of the net, wanting to stop the German victory train. They fought to no avail; Fuchs and Stadie closed the game without wasting too much time (21-14, 21-19).
Aliaksandr Kavalenka/Aliaksandr Dziadkou from Belarus made short work of their first round, when facing Latvians Aleksandrs Solovejs/Toms Smedins. The Latvian team just could not get the better of huge blocker Aliaksandr Kavalenka, who completely annulled the Latvians’ attacking options (21-12, 21-14).
Youngsters Arnaud Loiseau/Arnaud Gauthier-Rat from France have quickly won the hearts of the Swedish crowd with their energy and power. Hard spikes in combination with broad smiles have made them the new favourites of the fans, and the cheering from the stands carries them forward. The French team had a tough match against Edgars Tocs/Rihards Finsters from Latvia, and just barely snuck out a 2-1 win (26-28, 21-17, 15-13).
Happy with the outcome of the previous game, the crowd lived in anticipation for the next one. For the first time ever, a Swedish team was about to play in a CEV Satellite on home soil. The stands were overflowing with people as home stars Alexander Annerstedt and Alexander Herrmann went up against Israeli team Ariel Hilman/Sean Faiga. “I had to yell for the entire game, otherwise Alexander couldn’t hear me. The atmosphere was completely unbelievable. I loved every second of it,” Alexander Annerstedt said.
The supporters, family and friends were not disappointed to watch one of the best games of the day. After a close defeat by 20-22 in the first set, the Swedes had to win the second set to stay alive in the game. Trailing by three points at 19-16, the crowd was in despair and the odds looked rough. That is when Alexander Annerstedt, ‘The Smiling Swede’, decided to take the matter into his own hands. Having gone after tall blocker Sean Faiga all game, Annerstedt changed strategy and went after Ariel Hilman instead, catching him by surprise with a couple of wild float serves. An unbelievable comeback with five points in a row settled the second set to 21-19 in favour of the home team. Annerstedt/Herrmann received standing ovations for their deed. Sadly, for the Swedes, routine proved to be the deciding factor in the end. Hilman/Faiga with their major experience managed to keep their pace, and went on to taking home the third set 15-12. Faiga sealed the deal with a couple of big blocks, and the Israeli team advanced to round two.
When the time came for the top seeded Swedish team Simon Boman/Martin Appelgren, the pressure was on. A Swedish team was yet to win a game at the CEV Satellite in Beach Centre. Facing off against young Lithuanians Arnas Rumsevicius/Lukas Kazdailis, they carried the hope of all supporters on their shoulders. Boman/Appelgren rose to the occasion and played at the top of their capacity. Appelgren proved that he masters the float serve like few others, when he single handily brought home the first set after several incredible serves. The second set went on in the same fashion, and all Swedes could rejoice in watching Boman/Appelgren advancing to round two. The final score was 2-0 (21-14, 21-14).
Spectators watching the second round of the main draw witnessed the Ukrainian team Babich/Gordieiev winning their next game by a close margin, as they beat Siren/Nurminen 16-14 in the tiebreak. Joining them in the third round are Russia’s Alexander Likholetov/Ilya Leshukov after an impressive win against Sweden’s Boman/Appelgren (21-17, 21-15) and Hilman/Faiga after yet another three-setter, this time against Loiseau/Gauthier-Rat, who will have to make their way to the top by going the long way through the losers’ bracket. The last team advancing to round three is the team to beat, Germany’s Fuchs/Stadie. The newly composed pair has not lost a single set during the two initial days of competition in Göteborg.
Four teams were eliminated during the last games of the day: Sivolap/Velichko from Russia, Rumsevicius/Kazdailis from Lithuania, Solovejs/Smedins from Latvia and Sweden’s home stars Annerstedt/Herrmann.
On Saturday, the crowd can expect another ten games of the absolute highest standard as the tournament slowly but surely reaches its climax.
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