Satun, Thailand, April 11, 2019 – Ukrainians Denys Denysenko and Vladyslav Iemelianchyk stamped their superiority over the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Satun 1-Star after a convincing victory over Iranians in the men’s showdown on Thursday, as Chinese Taipei’s Kou Nai-Han and Liu Pi-Hsin captured the women’s crown.

Denysenko and Iemelianchyk, who fought hard to cruise past Kazakhstan’s Dmitriy Yakovlev and Sergey Bogatu in a nail-biting three-set encounter 21-17, 19-21, 15-13 in the semi-finals earlier, kept their momentum going in the final.

Against Iranians Rahman Raoufi and Abolhamed Mirzaali in the final clash, the Ukrainian duo displayed an amazing endurance and a splendid offensive combination to snatch a totally lop-sided first set 21-10.

Denysenko and Iemelianchyk started the second set in the same fashion as they carried out successful attacks and solid blocking. Despite a few timeouts, the Iranians failed to use the momentum and let the formidable rivals jump ahead. They tried to claw back into the game, but efforts and determination did not pay dividends. The Ukrainians performed brilliantly and did not allow their opponents any chance to come back, clinching the second set 21-14, match and gold medal.

This is their first World Tour gold as playing in the same team. The Ukrainian pairing finished a distant 25th at the World Tour 3-Star in Qinzhou, China in October 4, 2018. However, for Iemelianchyk, the Satun event is his second gold in the FIVB World Tour. In July 8, 2018, Iemelianchyk teamed up with Sergiy Popov to hand Ukraine’s the first-ever FIVB World Tour gold after they topped podium at a 1-Star event in Porec, Croatia.

“For sure we did not expect an easy win like this in the final,” said Denysenko after the match. “Our rivals suffered from the searing heat here in Thailand. The host country has already entered “summer” and it’s likely to be extremely hot everywhere. So, it’s likely that they ran out of energy and looked very tired. We also had a very tough game in the semi-finals against Kazakhstan, but fortunately, we did our best to get through to the final. I am very happy to win the title here.”

Next up for the Ukrainian duo is the FIVB World Tour Langkawi Open in Malaysia, which has already kicked off qualification round on Thursday.

“Our expectation is to try to win the matches we play and hope that we can show our best again there,” he added.

Yakovlev and Bogatu completely dashed high hopes of the host nation to win a medal in Satun as the Kazakh duo claimed bronze with a tie-break 2-1 (28-26, 14-21, 15-9) win against Thailand’s Kitti Duangjinda and Dunwinit Kaewsai in the third-place playoff.

The last time Kazakhstan won an FIVB World Tour medal was at the Bandar Anzali tournament in Iran on October 19, 2018 when Alexandr Dyanchenko and Alexey Sidorenko struck gold.

Meanwhile, the final women’s showdown turned out to be an all-Asians clash. Chinese Taipei’s Kou Nai-Han and Liu Pi-Hsin, ranked 58th in the world by FIVB and who have already captured their first FIVB World Tour gold in the Ulsan 1-Star in Korea on July 22, 2018, had to battle against the heat and resilient opponents.

Lou and Liu recovered from the first set down 18-21 to complete their remarkable unbeaten run in Satun with a hard-fought three-set win (18-21 21-18 15-12) against Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko.

“To get the gold medal here is such an honour for us,” said Liu. “I am very happy to finish on top of the podium. Vanuatu are a very good team with strong attacks. They moved and covered the court very well, so it was not easy to play them. We had to bring out our best to beat them.”

The Vanuatu duo, on the other hand, won their first-ever FIVB World Tour medal after appearing in three World Tour women’s final fours. They were placed fourth at the Vizag Open in India last March.

Ukraine’s Diana Lunina and Maryna Samoday had to settle for bronze following their 2-0 (23-21, 21-15) triumph over Colombia’s Galindo sisters, Claudia and Andrea.

“This tournament has been very hard for us because we didn’t get used to the hot weather here. The Ukraine summer is not as hot as here in Satun,” said Diana. “We feel mentally and physically exhausted. But it is a great experience for us for future tournaments. We have played together for one year and a half and our next tournament will be at the FIVB  Beach Volleyball World Tour Langkawi Open, so I hope we will have a good result out there.”

After conclusion of the FIVB World Tour Satun 1-Star on Thursday, most of the Asian teams will leave Satun the following day to take part in the 20th Asian Beach Volleyball Tour Samila Open in Songkhla from April 14 to 16. Since the annual event will be held during the Songkran Festival which marks the beginning of the traditional Thai New Year, all players and officials have been invited by the local organisers to join the “Water Festival” in and around the province on April 13.

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