2017-08-17 14:59:00 CEST
Europe’s best aiming for top continental prize ahead of World Tour Finals
Reigning World Tour Finals champions and newly crowned world champs Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst are among a host of top teams eyeing European Championship glory a week before the season finale kicks off in Hamburg next week.
The Germans, who won a Major on home sand last year and at the Toronto Finals 12 months ago, are aiming to win back-to-back European titles following success in last season’s final.
This year’s European Championships take place in Jurmala, Latvia, and a total 22 players who will be battling on the sand for the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals presented by Vodafone in Hamburg are in action on the north Latvian coast.
They also include last year’s reigning European champs and Olympic silver medalists Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy, and World Championship silver medalist Alex Horst, who partners with Julian Hörl as Clemens Doppler recovers from a small knee injury.
Competition began at the CEV event on Wednesday as the first of the pool play matches began with a number of the leading lights making their way through to the elimination stages. The likes of Lupo/Nicolai, Kantor/Losiak of Poland and Liamin/Krasilnikov, the bronze medalists in Vienna, all booked a place in the next phase. However, there was one shock – World Tour Finals wildcards Erdmann/Dollinger were defeated by England’s Gregory/Sheaf on Thursday afternoon. The Germans’ early exit means they can now concentrate on Hamburg.
In the women’s tournament, there have been no such surprises – yet – with all of the Hamburg-bound girls in top form.