Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli came back from a set down to win the opening match of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Cagliari on Wednesday morning. Under a surprising burst of rain disturbing the otherwise beautiful October weather in Sardinia, the Swiss pair claimed a three-set win, 2-1 (16-21, 26-24, 15-12), over Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude.
Betschart & Huberli keen to show their improvement
New European champions start World Tour Finals with a hard-fought win
Published 12:15, 06 Oct 2021
“It was not the prettiest game, for sure. We were struggling a little bit, especially at the beginning. It was tough, because it has been about a month with no tournaments. We were also a little bit curious how it would go. For sure, we needed some time to get used to the circumstances and the rhythm. The weather also changed a little bit during the game,” 29-year-old blocker Tanja Huberli told Volleyball World after the match. “We have some things to improve, for sure, if we want to win more matches and that’s what we are trying to do now.”
It has been about two months since the end of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where Betschart and Huberli finished ninth, a result they were clearly not very happy about. But they quickly redeemed themselves by winning the continental title at the CEV Beach Volleyball European Championship in Vienna.
“That was a great tournament for us!” 25-year-old defender Nina Betschart said. “Especially after the Olympics which left us really disappointed and somehow empty, that European Championship was the best thing that could happen to us. We were really motivated and played a great tournament.”
At the start of the World Tour Finals in Italy, Betschart and Huberli are positioned fourth in the FIVB World Ranking. In addition to the Olympics and EuroBeachVolley, the Swiss team have played seven four-star events on the World Tour since the start of the year. Their best result was a Sochi silver. They started the season with three ninths-places finishes in a row and achieved three fifths later on.
“We had a great season, except for the Olympics, and we know that we can play better than we ever played before. We improved this season and we wanted to show it. We wanted to show ourselves that the hard work we’ve been putting in at practice was worth it,” said Huberli. “So, here in Cagliari, we are looking forward to some more games against some great teams.”
The Finals in Cagliari are played in a special format, with the 10 women’s teams participating split into two round-robin pools of five, with the top three in each pool moving forward. Betschart and Huberli are in Pool A. After meeting the Germans, they also have to play against the home pair of Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi, this year’s Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman of USA and the current number threes in the World Ranking, Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina of Russia.
“I think the format is really cool; it’s something else,” Betschart commented. “You play at least four games, which is great, especially at the end of the season, and that makes everybody happy. We are looking forward to enjoying the tournament.”