Following Friday’s great performance of the Dutch men’s pairs at the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2021, their compatriots Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam continued with their incredible run on the women’s side to become one of the eight quarterfinalists for the first time in their FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour career as a team.
According to the Netherlands’ national federation rules, this result actually keeps Schoon and Stam’s Olympic dream alive as it makes them eligible for a second Dutch spot at Tokyo 2020, should the country earn one through the Continental Cup.
The Ostrava fairy tale for 19-year-old Raisa and 22-year-old Katja started in Wednesday’s qualifications when they knocked out none other than Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, pulling the brakes on the great Americans’ Tokyo aspirations. In their first main draw match, they pushed reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes to a tie-break and, despite losing to the Canadians, they survived the pool stage with s three-set win over Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth.
On Friday, Schoon and Stam were merciless. First, they claimed a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) victory over another Canadian duo, Megan McNamara and Nicole McNamara. Then, they produced a sensational 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) shutout of defending Ostrava champions, top-seeded Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa.
“We had a tough couple of weeks, doing a lot of training and talking about how we want to play and how we want to be as a team. The goal was to roll it out this tournament and the fact that we are doing it is so amazing! This last match was really important in light of a possible second Dutch quota for the Olympics, so we were really sharp from the beginning and we needed everything to win this game and to stay in the race,” Katja Stam told Volleyball World.
“I am just happy about how we play and about how we talk to each other. We have a plan and it works, so that’s fine! A match always starts at 0-0 and when we get our own job done I believe we are strong enough to beat the big teams. In the game against Brazil, we did it. We did our job, we stayed focused, and we made it!” Raisa Schoon added.
In one of Saturday’s quarterfinals, the young Dutch duo will once again take on second-seeded Pavan and Melissa, who took out Japan’s Miki Ishii and Megumi Murakami and Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima in straight sets.
The other Dutch duo, Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, also made the quarterfinals. In the last match of the day, they achieved a 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-9) victory over Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude. They will meet USA’s Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes, who extended their winning run in Ostrava with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-19) eighthfinal shutout of another German team, Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider.
Third-seeded Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland persevered through a nail-biting eighthfinal three-setter to celebrate with a 2-1 (21-14, 25-27, 21-19) victory over USA’s Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske, for whom it was the second tie-breaker of the day. The Swiss pair will take on fourth-seeded Americans Alix Klineman and April Ross for a spot in the semis. Alix and April completely powered through their two matches on Friday defeating Poland’s Kinga Wojtasik and Katarzyna Kociolek by 2-0 (21-12, 21-12) and Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina by 2-0 (21-14, 21-9).
After knocking out sixth-seeded Germans Margareta Kozuch and Laura Ludwig by 2-0 (22-20, 21-18), Brazil’s Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg went on to master a nerve-wracking 2-1 (14-21, 21-18, 17-15) comeback against Canada’s Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson and set up a quarterfinal encounter with Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart. The Swiss pair disappointed the centre court crowd with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-12) shutout of home favourites Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova.
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Ostrava
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020