Roi Et, Thailand, November 9, 2023 – The action-packed Main Draw of the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships reaches a thrilling climax on Friday with teams in both genders fighting with utmost efforts on the last day of pool round-robin preliminaries to seek their berths in single elimination Round of 24 to be contested later in the afternoon.
A large number of home fans on Thursday braved scorching heat with searing temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius at four competition courts in front of the picturesque Roi Et Tower and adjacent Bueng Planchai to support their favorite teams.
As big names and young stars from around the world made their mark on Day 2 of the Main Draw, Asian teams were put to the real test on Thursday, with some sealing victories to keep their hopes of advancing alive but others succumbing to losses to much stronger opponents and likely to suffer early exit.
In the women’s event, Kazakhstan’s Nadezhda Ivanchenko/Laura Kabulbekova cruised past Germans Elea Beutel/Clara Dreben 2-0 (21-11, 21-19) for two wins in a row in Pool E.
Australians Stefanie Fejes/Jasmine Fleming, who captured the continental title for the same age category last July at Ban Nongyama School here in Roi Et, did likewise as they claimed two straight wins following their 2-0 (21-3, 21-6) triumph in a totally lopsided battle against Gambians Anna Marie Bojang/Fatou Ceesay on Thursday.
The 20-year-old Fejes, who teamed up with Jana Milutinovic to win Beach Pro Tour Futures Coolangatta early this year, and Fleming will next go up against Kazakhs Ivanchenko/Kabulbekova in the Friday morning to determine the Pool E winners. However, win or loss, both sides, similarly collecting 4 points from two straight wins without dropping a set, have already booked their berths for knockout stage in the Round of 24 later in the Friday afternoon.
In Pool D, Chinese Xu Yan/Zhou Mingli’s winning streak was stopped on Thursday when they lost their third match against Anna Pavelkova and Katerine Pavelkova from Czechia 0-2 (23-25, 16-21). Still, the Chinese pair remained atop Pool D with 5 points from two wins against one loss. The Czechia’s Pavelkova twins also completed their pool play with similar 5 points from two wins against one loss to come in second place.
In Pool F, Vietnamese Hong Hanh Mai/Nguyen Thi Thu lost 1-2 (21-16, 13-21, 11-15) to Paraguay’s Sofia Paredes Enrique/Fiorella Nunez Quintana to bag only 2 points from two straight losses to trail in third place on Thursday. They will next take on Nigerians Naomi Ayenejeyi Yaro/Esther Onyinye Mbah in their final clash the following day.
Contesting Pool H, Malaysia’s Farwizah Aina Ahmad Nizar/Shamsulrizal Nur Auni Maisarah suffered their second loss in the topflight championships at the hands of Canadians Ruby Sorra/Emma Glagau after going down 0-2 (14-21, 14-21). The Malaysians had only 2 points from two straight losses and need a must-win match against Estonians Eva Liisa Kuivonen/Liisa-Lotta Jurgenson on Friday to keep their hopes of advancing to Round of 24 alive. Kuivonen/Jurgenson already had 3 points from one win against one loss.
Home enthusiasts had something to cheer about on Thursday when Patcharaporn Seehawong, who claimed silver medal at the Asian U21 Championships last July with Jidapa Bunongkhun, and Suchinna Choemphun made it two in a row following their comeback 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-11) win against Estonians Eva Liisa Kuivonen/Liisa-Lotta Jurgenson to stay atop Pool H with 4 points.
The Thai pair will contest their last Pool H encounter against Canadians Sorra/Glagau on Friday morning.
Another Thai pairing, Salinda Mungkhon/Jidapa Bunongkhun, had a comfortable task on Thursday to beat Joanna Robinson/Anjia Delapenha of Cayman Islands in a completely one-sided affair 21-5, 21-7 to finish second in Pool A with 5 points from two wins against one loss.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Mastikhin/Nurboldy Kulboldyyev and Iranians Ali Ghorbanpasandi/Habib Naseri are assured of crashing out of the competition. With only three teams apiece from each pool through to the Round of 24 in men’s and women’s events, both sides had already completed their Main Draw campaigns on Thursday to similarly finish fourth place in Pool B and Pool D respectively.
Kazakhs Mastikhin/Kulboldyyev lost to Brazilians Eduardo Henrique Barbosa da Silver/Isac Adolfo Farias Barbos 0-2 (12-21, 15-21) and later in the afternoon, suffered another loss to Swedes Elmer Andersson/Jacob Holting Nilsson 0-2 (11-21, 6-21) to come in fourth position in Pool B with 3 points from three straight losses.
Also in Pool B, young Lebanese duo, 17-year-old Hadi El Chabib/Omar Abi Karam, 20, were beaten 0-2 (16-21, 17-21) to Swedes Anderson/Holting Nilsson and succumbed to their second defeat at the hands of the Brazilians 0-2 (16-21, 21-23) later in the afternoon. However, at the end of pool play, the Lebanese pair finished third place in the Pool to qualify for the Friday’s Round of 24.
Iranians Ali/Habib also lost twice on Thursday, first going down 0-2 (16-21, 10-21) to Czechia’s Krystof Jan Oliva/David Westphal and later succumbing to 1-2 (23-21, 19-21 15-9) defeat to Germans Tamo Wust/Tristan Frobel in the afternoon to complete their Pool D encounters in fourth place with 3 points from three successive losses.
Also contesting Pool D, Ben Hood, who partnered Lucas Josefsen to claim the Asian U21 Championship last July here in Roi Et, and D’Artagnan Potts had mixed luck on Thursday.
The Aussies went down 1-2 (16-21, 23-21, 13-15) to Germans Wust/Frobel in the morning but made amends in the afternoon to beat Czechia’s Krystof Oliva/David Westphal 2-1 (24-22, 17-21, 15-12) to complete their pool play in second place in Pool D with 5 points from two wins against one loss.
Thailand’s Wichaya Wisetkan/Saiphirun Ruairung, though boosted by cheering home crowd at the venue, went down 0-2 (15-21, 12-21) to Belgians Joppe Van Langendonck/Kyan Vercauteren.
However, the host team made a successful comeback in the afternoon following their 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) rout of Canadians Charles Ellinas/Colin Lash to finish third in Pool A with 4 points from one win against two losses.
In Pool H, Thailand’s Watanyoo Jaita/Kittipoom Ruchisuk went down to Egyptians Mazen Mostafa/Youssef Abdelrahman 0-2 (15-21, 19-21) on Thursday to trail in fourth place with 2 points from two straight losses. The Thai chances ran into trouble as they will next play their last Pool H match against Poland’s Filip Lejawa/Szymon Beta, who had made it two in a row without losing a set to stay atop the Pool.
Also competing in Pool H, Chinese Zhou Yongji/Xu Zongqi lost 0-2 (19-21, 13-21) to Poles Lejawa/Beta on Thursday to trail in second place with 3 points from one win. Zhou/Xu, who claimed bronze medal at the Asian U21 Championships here in Roi Et last July, will next take on Egyptians Mazen/Youssef in their last Pool H clash.
Friday is the last day of the pool round-robin preliminaries when only top three teams from each pool in both men’s and women’s events advance to knockout stage in Round of 24 later in the afternoon.
For match schedule and results, please visit https://en.volleyballworld.com/beachvolleyball/competitions/u21-world-championships-2023/schedule/
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