Signs of promise for England at Beach European Champs
30th September 2020
England can be proud of the athletes who flew the flag for the country at the U18 and U22 Beach Volleyball European Championships in Izmir, Turkey.
In the U18 competition, which took place between 17-20 September, Katie Keefe and Isabelle Tucker (pictured from L-R) started with a bang by beating France 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 15-11) and then dominating hosts Turkey in straight sets (21-6, 21-12). After finishing top of their group, the pair proceeded to the Round of 16 where they lost to Poland 0-2 (12-21, 17-21) to finish joint 9th.
Coach Arsene de Kesel (pictured above) said: “Team Keefe-Tucker is a team aiming high in their young beach volleyball career and their time in Izmir reflected that. They were nervous and uncertain at times, yet determined and confident at other times. An overall 9th at the U18 European Championships in this Covid-era is a result to be proud of.”
Meanwhile, in the men’s competition, Enrique Bello and Peter Soczewka had promising starts to their first two matches but struggled to adjust to conditions. In their opener against Moldova, Team Bello-Soczewka lost in straight sets (17-21, 11-21). It was a different score but the same result against Sweden (19-21, 15-21) with a tightly contested first set that could have gone either way. However, victory over hosts Turkey (21-12, 21-15) secured the pair’s ticket out of the group stages. In the Round of 24, England were stopped by Switzerland (11-21, 13-21), finishing in joint 17th.
Coach Luis Bello said: “This is the highest competition for this age group in Europe and it proved to be quite challenging for our very young team. They did show some very good moments of play, like in their match against Sweden, but also combined with the nerves and mistakes you would expect from a team of their age and experience. Overall, a 17th finish and a great first experience in the higher-level international scene for Enrique and Peter, an up and coming team who are hungry for more in the years to come.”
A few days later the U22 Beach Volleyball European Championships also took place at Pamucak Park on the shores of the Aegean Sea. Representing England in the men’s competition were Javier Bello and Freddie Bialokoz, who had never played together before. An injury to Joaquin Bello saw Freddie called up at the last minute. If that wasn’t enough to contend with, Javier and Freddie were placed in a group with the current U21 World Championships silver medalists Italy and the reigning U22 champions Russia. Despite their best efforts, they lost to eventual champions Russia (14-21, 15-21), Czech Republic (14-21, 15-21) and Italy (11-21, 25-27).
Coach Luis Bello said: “'It was always going to be tough sending a new team after Joaquin’s unfortunate injury, but while we didn’t have high expectations, the guys showed some strong character and lost against stronger teams with dignity.”
Saskia Freitas Schoffel and Lauren Huggins competed for England in the women’s contest and the pair had a tough time in Turkey. They lost their opener to Latvia (9-21, 16-21) and despite losing to Czech Republic (15-21, 8-21) the following day, were given a bye into the next round where they were sent home by Slovenia (11-21, 17-21).
A massive thank you once more to dryrobe and 1st Class Protection for supporting England’s beach volleyball athletes at the European Championships.