Déjà-vu in Vienna

It was a familiar picture as the curtain fell on the A1 CEV EuroBeachVolley Vienna 2021: Anders Mol and Christian Sørum of Norway were standing atop the podium, crowned European champions for a fourth consecutive time. Swiss pair Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli claimed gold in the women’s event.

Coming off their golden Olympic campaign, Mol and Sørum carried their fantastic form over to Vienna and added another historic achievement to their already impressive résumé. A 26-match winning streak and a fourth straight EuroBeachVolley title are unprecedented. However, the Vikings had to work hard, with Dutch duo Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot putting up a fight in the gold medal match. The Norwegians’ experience prevailed, as they edged their opponents 2-1 (21-19, 24-26, 15-12).

“The Dutch played amazing, it was a perfect final, we had to work really hard to find a way to beat them. We had one goal before this tournament and it was to win this title, but to win four in a row, it’s hard to believe,” Sørum told CEV in the post-match interview.

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Mol echoed his teammate’s words: “It will take us some time to sink in what we accomplished over these last weeks, it’s hard to believe we just won the Olympic gold and now a fourth EuroBeachVolley title. This was one of the best matches we played in the last few years. The Dutch played really well, and we’d like to congratulate them too. Playing here in Vienna is always special and I’m so happy we’re still unbeaten here. We hate losing any match, but even more in front of these fans.”

Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Łosiak took home the bronze medal after defeating Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen in straight sets, 2-0 (21-4, 21-19).

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Back-to-back for Switzerland

Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli succeeded their compatriots Joana Heidrich and Anouk Vergé-Dépré on the EuroBeachVolley throne, making Switzerland only the second country to win back-to-back women’s titles with different teams. In Saturday’s final, the Swiss prevailed over Dutch up-and-comers Raïsa Schoon and Katja Stam 2-0 (21-15, 21-12).

It is the first continental title for Betschart and Hüberli, who had previously reached the final in 2018, ultimately taking silver. The triumph tasted even sweeter following a subpar performance in Tokyo.

"We're thrilled to be European champions. The win by itself is something great, but to do it here, in Vienna, with this fantastic atmosphere, it's just so special. We didn't do well in the Olympics and wanted to put it behind us and there was no better way to do it,” 28-year-old Hüberli confirmed. “Our entire team really wanted to win this tournament and we need to thank them for believing in us and working so hard over the last five years. I'm so glad our dream came true."

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In the bronze medal match, German veterans Karla Borger and Julia Sude edged out Latvians Anastasija Kravčenoka and Tīna Graudiņa in three sets, 2-1 (14-21, 17-21, 8-15). Whilst both Borger and Sude had previously won bronze medals with different partners, it is their first EuroBeachVolley medal as a team. 

The relief and joy were palpable, as Borger put her team’s feelings into words: “We are very proud of ourselves. After the Olympics, we discussed whether we should play here at all, but we proved that we are good players. Everything is possible if you just believe. Playing in front of so many spectators after such a long time is something we missed. That's what beach volleyball is all about.”

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To relive all the action from Vienna and for all results, please visit the official event website. Check out European Volleyball on YouTube for more highlight clips from the A1 CEV EuroBeachVolley Vienna 2021. 

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Beach Volleyball