A great opening day at the Continental Cup!
25th May 2019
It was a brilliant opening day of the CEV Continental Cup as international beach volleyball returned to London.
With tickets available for free, there was a busy crowd at the Feel Good Too centre in Leyton. The event which made possible thanks to Waltham Forest Council and managed by SideOut was also well-supported by a brilliant band of volunteers. Beach volleyball was back! And will return tomorrow with another day of great action – and you can be there for free.
On the court, England didn’t let the home crowd down either. The England men gave them plenty to cheer about as they secured qualification to round 2 of the Continental Cup, which is a route to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, with tomorrow’s game to spare.
With Bulgaria having pulled out, England needed just one victory from the weekend from their matches against Switzerland and Armenia to go through. They took the win from today’s tie against Armenia in comfortable fashion.
While in the Women’s competition, England endured a titanic battle against Belarus and were edged out in the most agonising fashion. Their dreams of qualifying for the second round are far from over though. They face a tie against Northern Ireland first thing tomorrow to avoid finishing fourth and go through to a 2nd/3rd play-off. If they can beat their neighbours, the 2nd/3rd playoff will see them face off with Belarus again, with the winner heading to round two.
The day’s action
Fledgling stars on the sand Ellie Austin and Anaya Evans got the action underway for England as they faced Belarus in their opening tie. The young pair had a great battle with Siakretava/Chabai. Austin and Evans were squeezed out 21-17 in the first set, before bouncing back to edge the second 22-20 to the delight of the home crowd. In the decisive set, Belarus stepped up the gears and took the win 15-8 in the third.
The tie was soon level though as England women’s number one pair Vicky Palmer and Jess Grimson defeated the other Belarus pair of Borys/Karabinovich 2-0 (21-18, 21-17). Palmer and Grimson then went on to face Siakretava/Chabai in the golden match.
The Belarussians forced a tight opener 24-22. England were not going to lie down though and showed incredible spirit. They saved three match points in the second set and levelled the match 1-1, as they overhauled a deficit to win the set 22-20. In the final set, Palmer and Grimson looked set to complete the job but the Belarussians produced a stunning comeback of their own. They staved off four match points and stole the tie 17-15.
While it was disappointing way to lose, they had provided the crowd superb entertainment. They will be buoyed though by knowing if they can get past Northern Ireland, they have every chance of reversing the result in a second shot against Belarus.
For the men, the draw made the equation much simpler and they made easier work of getting the victory they needed.
Chris Gregory and Issa Batrane dominated the Armenian pair of Asmaryan/Ghasaboghlyan to cruise to a 2-0 victory (21-9, 21-9). Their great work was backed up by England’s other pair of Javier Bello and Phil Smith. They produced a solid display against Balabekyan/Simoni to win 2-0 (21-18, 21-17). That meant Team England will head to round two, but will relish the opportunity to have a no pressure game against Switzerland tomorrow as an indicator of just how far they can go.
With France having secured top spot in the women’s competition, they will get the day off tomorrow. England will face Northern Ireland with the winner going on to the 2nd/3rd place play-off against Belarus. England’s first match starts at 09:00am with Grimson and Palmer taking on Montgomery/Kavanagh-Dick of Northern Ireland, with Austin and Evans follow at 10:00am.
The men’s competition will see England take on Switzerland it what promises to be a great encounter. Bello and Smith with play the first match of the tie against Heidrich/Gerson at 12:00. Gregory and Batrane will follow at 13:00 against Beeler/Krattiger.