England Beach Volleyball at World University Championships
20th July 2016
Volleyball England beach pairings of Andrew Clayton/Issa Batrane and Mark Garcia-Kidd/Robert Poole are back on English soil after representing Great Britain in Estonia at the World University Championships.
Clayton and Batrane were first on the sand in their pool B match against home side Estonia. The duo showed promise in an excellent team performance but just lost the first set 21-18. The team missed out by even finer margins in the second set, which they lost 24-22 (2-0).
Garcia-Kidd and Poole’s first match in pool C came against the 19th-seed German pairing Harms/Schneider. The first set was a close contest with the GBR pair piling on the pressure in the early stages. Germany showed composure and closed the set 21-17. Harms and Schneider took an early lead in the second set which proved too much for GBR to claw back. Despite a hard fight, they lost the set 21-7 and the match 2-0.
Garcia-Kidd said: “It felt like we had a great first set and put pressure on our opponent but we lost discipline a little in the second.
“We need to maintain quality for longer and will take this into our next game.”
In their second pool game against Cyprus, Garcia-Kidd/Poole struggled to find their flow in the first set and suffered from strong service pressure from the opposition, to lose 21-11. GBR showed their fighting spirit in the second set, a close battle with some high quality volleyball but didn’t manage to convert the points and they narrowly lost 21-18
Poole shared his disappointment after the match. He said: “We had a chance in the second set but we didn’t take it which is disappointing”.
Back in pool B, Clayton and Batrane’s faced the pair from the USA, Orenic/Yoder. In a spectacular first set, it was GBR who came on top of an epic battle which ended 24-22. But USA reacted in the following set, piling on the pressure with some crowd-pleasing points to level the match 21-9. In the decider, there was little between the sides but once again USA pulled ahead to win 2-1 (22-24, 21-9, 15-13).
Both GBR pairings’ final pool stage matches came against Germany and Poland. Garcia-Kidd and Poole faced third-seed Polish pair, Kosiak/Rudol. Despite putting up a fight, they lost 2-0 (21-12, 21-10).
Clayton/Batrane faced and even stronger paring, second-seeded German Poniewaz and Rudolf. Likewise, the GBR pairing struggled to find their mark against the experienced side and despite their best efforts, they lost 21-10, 21-16 (2-0).
With neither GBR team progressing to the main draw, they both teams faced a playoff placing match, against each other.
In a brilliant match, the GBR teams pushed each other to three sets. With very little to separate the pairings in the first two sets, Batrane and Clayton eventually came out on top in the third to win 2-1 (19-21, 22-20, 15-13).
In their next playoff, Batrane/Clayton were up against Canada. With GBR showing solid work in the block, they overcame a 4-0 deficit to bring themselves within one point of Canada at 9-8. But it was the Canadians who had all the answers in the later stages of the set, winning 21-17. In the second set, GBR found it hard to win points, despite some excellent cover play from Issa Batrane and big blocking from Andy Clayton and they conceded the second set 21-11 (2-0).
Clayton said: “This was a really disappointing result where we both know that we could perform better. We have played some really great volleyball this weekend and that game just didn’t meet those standards.”
Clayton/Batrane then played Latvia in the 27th-place playoff. Both teams had a struggled start to the match, trading service errors and finding it difficult to find rhythm. Clayton stepped up to the mark, and with a dramatic first set finale, GB took the 1-0 lead (21-19). GBR carried their momentum into the second set, taking a four point lead through Clayton’s aggressive block and Batrane making more reads on the back court. But GBR soon found themselves behind, going on to lose the set 21-18. GBR once again took an early lead in the deciding set, forcing Latvia to take a timout at 7-2. Through great decision making, shot selection and serving consistency, Clayton/Batrane took the final set 15-5 and the match 2-1, finishing 27th overall in the competition.
Garcia-Kidd and Poole’s final matches were against Chrysostomou/Anastasiades of Cyprus and Hungarian pairing Bagics/Jánossy. In the tie against Cyprus, both teams made a comfortable start to the match, trading points early on. A very closely fought first set led the score to 20-20, when GBR showed resilience to take the lead (23-21). The second set was equally as close, as Garcia-Kidd/Poole worked hard to keep the score level 16-16. But this time it was Cyprus’ turn to show composure to level the match (21-19). It was the Cypriot pairing who refused to relinquish their lead and they pulled away to win the match 2-1 (15-9).
Against Hungary in the 29th-place playoff, GBR’s Garcia-Kidd/Poole played some excellent volleyball to take an early hold on the game. Both players served tough throughout the set and with good decision making on decisive points, the team won with ease 21-11. The two teams were tied at 10-10 in the second set, but carrying their momentum and experience from the whole competition, strong serving from Garcia-Kidd gave GBR a 14-11 advantage. As the pairing pulled away, the match was won on a low service from Poole 21-15 (2-0).