Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint triumphed at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite16 women’s tournament in Hamburg. Losing only a single set at the event in Germany, they not only achieved their first Beach Pro Tour podium, but also USA’s first Elite16 medal.
Cheng & Flint claim USA’s first Elite16 medal with Hamburg gold
Brunner & Huberli take silver, Borger & Sude get the bronze
Pubblicato 11:57, 14 Aug 2022
Switzerland’s Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli took their first silver on the Tour, to add to their bronze medals at the Doha Challenge and the Ostrava Elite16.
The home team of Karla Borger and Julia Sude mastered a fantastic comeback in the third place match to claim the bronze medals. It was the first Beach Pro Tour podium for the German pair.
Two aces in a row by Brunner gave the Swiss side a 6-3 lead in the first set of Sunday’s final in Hamburg, but Cheng and Flint swiftly caught up at 6-6. Then two kill blocks in a row by Huberli put her team at an 11-7 advantage, but the Americans recovered again to level it at 18-18 on a running tip by Cheng. Flint followed up with an off-the-block shot for 19-18 and an ace to bring set point. A rally later, Flint again killed it to close the set. Four American points in a row led to an 11-8 lead in the second set, but the Swiss fought back to level it at 13-13. They even had a two-point edge at 17-15, when the Americans turned things around with five in a row on Flint’s serve to reach match point. A rally later, Flint herself converted it to a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) sweep with a successful spike.
“Our goal is Paris 2024, so this is an awesome stepping stone. It’s great for our team to have our first international win because that’s the main focus. So it’s incredible, it’s fun to celebrate, but we have a ton of work to do going forward,” Flint told Volleyball World.
“I want to win a gold medal every tournament I go to, so this is just great! It’s also very nice to see all of our hard work pay off. When all the pieces start coming together, it gets really exciting,” Cheng added. “Now, for the rest of the year, it’s cleaning up things, working on consistency and trying to beat everyone on Tour all the time. We want to dominate the Beach Pro Tour, so that’s what we are working towards and I think we have the capabilities. It’s about being consistent, taking care of the opportunities that we create for ourselves and having fun along the way.”
The first set of the bronze medal match earlier on Sunday went level through 7-7, when Brazil’s Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg scored three in row and never looked back, completely dominating on the court until Carol’s two-handed overpass kill closed the set at 21-10. The second set was by far the most interesting one of the match. Borger and Sude broke away with a 5-1 lead, but the Brazilians kept their cool and made a fantastic run from 7-4 Germany’s way to an 11-7 lead. This is when Borger and Sude started building up their real comeback. They caught up at 18-18 on a block by Sude. Then they denied a Brazilian match point, to get a set point of their own at 21-20 on an ace by Borger. Moments later, a setting error by Barbara handed the set to the Germans at 23-21. With Borger continuing to serve well and Sude putting away the monster blocks, they dominated the tie-breaker. They jumped into another 5-1 lead, but this time held on to it to reach match point at 14-8. Brazil fought on to take the next three points before a tip by Sude completed the turnaround for a 2-1 (10-21, 23-21, 15-11) victory.
“I think they were very surprised that we won the second set, because we were buried already, but we came out of the grave again. So in the third set, they made more mistakes than they did through the rest of the match. We took advantage of the momentum and the crowd helped a lot,” Julia Sude told Volleyball World.