Qinzhou, China, October 14, 2017 – Russia’s 15th seeds Maxim Sivolap/Igor Velichko upset third seeds Nadir Diaz Gomez Nivaldo and Bayard Sergio Reynaldo Gonzalez of Cuba in the men’s semi-finals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Qinzhou Open here Saturday afternoon to meet Mexico’s fourth seeds Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros in Sunday’s final.
With the 21-18, 16-21 and 15-10 victory, the Russian duo secured their first medal at a FIVB World Tour event.
After splitting the first two sets with the Cuban team, Sivolap/Velichko fell behind 3-0 in the third and deciding set and called a time-out. When the game resumed, they ran off four points in a row to overtake the lead at 4-3 and enlarged it to 9-6, a gap Nivaldo/ Gonzalez could never close.
“Actually, we didn’t talk too much during the time-out. We just said ‘now the game is starting’ and played a little better and the results turned out to be good for us,” said Sivolap through an interpreter.
Sivolap/Velichko revealed that they had decided to save energy when trailing by four points late in the second set. “In the second set, we were kind of loosened up and then we wanted to catch up with them, but then we thought we should give this set up and play stronger in the tiebreaker,” said Velichko.
Sivolap/Velichko vowed to play more consistently against Virgen and Ontiveros in Sunday morning’s final.
“We won’t change anything. We’ll try to play a more stable game and everything will be fine,” Sivolap added.
Earlier on Saturday, Virgen/Ontiveros beat top seeds Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle of Belgium 21-13 and 21-19 for the other berth in the final.
“It was not easy. Maybe in the first set, it was rather manageable. In the second set, Belgium tried to fight back, while we became a little tired, but thankfully, with Lombardo’s final point, we won the match,” said Virgen.
“It’s really difficult, always, against Belgium,” Ontiveros echoed. “The semi-finals in the World Tour, in every stage, at one-star, two-star, three-star, are always difficult. You have to manage the pressure and just try to do what you have to do.”
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