Baku, June 17, AZERTAC
Austrian pair Katharina Schutzenhofer and Lena Maria Plesiutschnig ruined an otherwise perfect opening day for the Azerbaijan women's beach volleyball team in the final match of Tuesday's evening session in women's volleyball.
Going into the match, Azerbaijan boasted a blemish-free 3-0 record on the day and Vivian Cunha (AZE) and Zinaida Liubymova (AZE) were expected to make it four-from-four against an Austrian pair that had already lost to Lithuania's Ieva Dumbauskaite and Monika Povilaityte 2-1 in the morning.
But mixing deft dinks with aggressive attack, the confident Austrians refused to read the script and upset the home side in straight sets 21-19, 21-15.
"We played quite well tonight. We can beat almost everyone. With the Azerbaijan pair we have the same level of play but they are older," Schutzenhofer said after the victory.
Having beaten Danish pair Eva Bang and Cecilie Olsen 2-0 in the morning session, it was a setback that leaves the Azerbaijan pair with plenty to do in their final Pool A match against the Lithuanian pair Dumbauskaite and Povilaityte on Wednesday evening.
Compatriots Raquel Ferreira (AZE) and Iuliia Karimova (AZE) will sleep more soundly, knowing they have two wins in the bank. Earlier in the evening, the pair enjoyed a dominant 21-17, 21-16 victory over Ukrainian pair Daria Udovenko and Yelyzaveta Sulima.
"We started slow and we got better and better," said Ferreira. Iuliia ended up playing very well. I was worried about us playing at night because we don't have experience. I am very proud."
If the atmosphere was vibrant in the morning when Ferreira and Karimova defeated Katarzyna Kociolek (POL) and Dorota Strag (POL) in straight sets, it was positively humming for the evening session.
"The support is something crazy that makes you feel it in your skin," said Karimova.
The women's action continues at Baku's Beach Arena on Wednesday afternoon.