Larnaka, Cyprus, July 30, 2016 – With a team in each semifinal on Sunday, Brazil has secured at least one podium place at the FIVB U19 World Championships in Larnaka. Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Victoria Lopes Pereira face Americans Kathryn Plummer and Milica Mirkovic and Vitoria De Souza Rodrigues and Ana Carolina de Almeida play Nika Daalderop and Mexime van Driel from the Netherlands for a spot in the final.
The 17-year old Duda is eyeing her fifth medal in a FIVB age-group tournament. She won silver at the U23 (Myslowice, 2013), two golds at the U19 (Porto, 2013 and 2014) and gold at the U21 (Lucerne, 2016) with different partners. She has also collected two golds, a silver and a bronze medal on the World Tour with her regular partner Elize Maia.
Duda and Victoria are the only team to reach the semifinals with straight wins. On Saturday they defeated Norway’s Kirstine Garder and Emilie Olimstad (21-13, 21-16) and Czechs Tereza Kotlasova and Daniela Resova (21-13, 21-9).
Their opponents in the semifinal, USA’s Plummer and Mirkovic, came all the way from qualification. They knocked out Cyprus’ Vasiliki Chatzikonstanta and Katerina Zakchaiou (21-15, 21-15), Austria’s Victoria Deisl and Ilona Kiss (21-12, 21-10) and Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Paula Neciporuka (24-22, 21-19) in the elimination rounds on Saturday.
“It has been a long tournament and a long day”, said Mirkovic after their last match. “I think it gets better every day and this last match showed how we are able to come back from being down a few points. And it showed how much strength and heart we possess.”
Her partner for this tournament Plummer won the U17 World Championships in Mexico in 2014, but for Mirkovic Larnaka is her first FIVB experience.
“This is a wonderful way to have the top teams in the entire world to come together and compete against each other and you get to see how other people play”, the 17-year old said.
“And you also get to connect with all those other countries and players and kind of understand their culture, which I think is very special.”
Plummer has been meeting up with some ‘old friends’ from two years ago at the U17. “There are actually a lot of the same girls here, so it’s fun to see how they improved. The level is much stronger because everybody is more mature and they are starting to get that mental game locked down.”
“At the U17 it was only the first opportunity. And now everyone kind of knows what to expect, they know how to train for it and they know how to compete for it. So I think that is just a little bit different.”
In the other semifinal Daalderop and Van Driel will also try to prevent an all-Brazilian final. The Dutch girls defeated Slovenia’s Tajda Lovsin and Spela Morgan (21-8, 21-12) and Czech Martina Maixnerova and Marie-Sara Stochlova (21-11, 21-18).
“It’s going really well”, said Dutch national champion Daalderop (17), who won the U20 European Championships in June for the second time in a row with her regular partner Joy Stubbe. “We didn’t have much preparation together for this tournament. Only one practice, but it doesn’t matter, during the tournament we are connecting more and more.”
They have never played Vitoria and Ana Carolina before. The Brazilian girls are playing their first international tournament and came all the way from qualification. They haven’t lost a match yet, claimed the pool title and eliminated Thailand’s Naphatsawan and Sirinuch (21-14, 14-21, 15-8) and USA’s Alexis Filippone and Megan Muret (21-18, 21-16) on Saturday.
“We will go in full force and then on to the podium”, said Daalderop. “Surely some nerves will come tomorrow”, added Van Driel who made her FIVB debut in Larnaka. “But we will get a good sleep, do a good warm-up and that will give us all the confidence we need.”Quick Links
• U19 World Championships Larnaka, Cyprus 2016 - website
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women