Knasas and Stankevicius spoil Slovenian party in Ljubljana


Rok Bracko and Alan Kosenina were just one win away from delighting their home fans at the Pogacar Square on Sunday, but the Slovenians had to settle for silver at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour one-star event in Ljubljana as Lithuanians Audrius Knasas and Patrikas Stankevicius upset the local heroes to take the title.

Playing together for just the second time on the World Tour, the 22-year-old Knasas and Stankevicius got to celebrate their second medal together (and the first gold) after they emphatically defeated Bracko and Kosenina in straight sets (21-14, 21-12) in the final in Ljubljana.

Knasas hits over Bracko's block in the gold medal match

Knasas and Stankevicius lost first pool play match at the Pogacar Square but won the next five to take the title, dropping just one set along the way. The two, who had finished third at the 2018 U22 European Championships, had taken silver in a World Tour one-star event in Malbork, Poland, back in 2019. 

The bronze medals in Ljubljana went to Serbians Milos Milic and Lazar Kolaric, who prevailed over Swedish Martin Appelgren and Alexander Hermann in the two-set (21-19, 21-16) third-place match. 

Teams from Slovenia, Lithuania and Serbia made it to the podium in Ljubljana

Earlier, in the semifinals, the Lithuanians downed the Serbians in straight sets (21-15, 21-13) while the Slovenians needed three (21-16, 17-21, 15-9) to get past the duo from Sweden.

On the women’s tournament, Czechs Martina Williams and Marie-Sara Stochlova capped off a strong weekend in Ljubljana, which saw them win all their six matches and lose just one set, with the gold medal around their necks. The two came out on top of the all-European final against Dutch sisters Mexime and Emi van Driel, securing a 2-0 (21-18, 27-25) victory to claim the title.

It was just the first international victory for the 30-year-old Williams and the 22-year-old Stochlova, who first teamed up ahead of the 2021 season. While the veteran defender has played in 75 World Tour events over 11 different seasons, the young blocker has first appeared in the international scene in 2018 and has competed in ten tournaments since then.

Stochlova (left) and Williams pose with their trophies

Italians Margherita Bianchin and Claudia Scampoli stepped on the podium for the second time in seven days as the winners of last week’s one-star event in Sofia took bronze this time, downing Belgian qualifiers Sarah Cools and Lisa van den Vonder in two sets (21-18, 21-19). 

In the semifinals, the Czechs dominated the Belgians to a three-set (21-19, 20-22, 15-7) win while the Dutch knocked the Italians out in two sets (21-17, 21-17). 

The Czechs are flanked by the Dutch (left) and the Italians (right) in the all-European podium

Quick links:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Ljubljana
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020


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