Klagenfurt World tour 2008 day 3

What a day of beach Volleyball!

We had hoped to see at least one of our mates get through to the final day. Well we had two chances. Williams-Metzger USA and Lochhead-Pitman NZL.

Now Willie and Stein won an AVP event this year, Willie finished 4th at the last Olympics and Stein’s career record is pretty awesome with a lot of AVP wins and a hell of a lot of single digit figures on the World Tour. They are a great team, which is lucky, because they definitely got the short end of the stick with today’s draw. First up, Bruno-Maciel BRA. I missed this game because it was prime time center court, but the USA guys got up 1-2 (21-18, 16-21, 10-15).

MArk and Stein receiving on center court against Brazil

MArk and Stein receiving on center court against Brazil

The second game we watched. It was against Reckermann-Urbatzka GER, who are solid. The first set looked to be all Germany up until about 17 – 15, when suddenly Stein seemed to know exactly where the German’s were going to place every shot. He made a couple of transition points, and then Willie turned it up a notch and grabbed two great blocks, the second of which was at 22 – 23, for the set.

The second set blew out badly, everything going right for the Germans. 21 – 13 Germany.

The third set was tight again. The game was back and forth. The Germans seemed to be in complete control for 3 or 4 points, then the USA was in control for a few points. The rallies were long and the wind was picking up a bit. Willie and Stein finally got a small break at the fourth change to be up 9 – 11. Then they broke it open with a hard fought scrambling play that ended with Stein sending an 80% blat to the baseline on two (ugly but effective), and Willie got another monster block to a be up 14 – 11 on the final end change.

Germany sided out. 12 – 14. Willie got roofed… 13 – 14. At this stage I was very glad that they were serving Willie, because Stein was looking a bit ragged from all the running around. (After the match he made a comment to that effect too.) Willie passed the last serve, set was OK, but the block put the ball back onto Willie, so he had to start again. This time, he hit low and wiped of the fore arms of Jonas and it was all over. Time for a beer.

Tomorrow will be a semi final against Ricardo-Emanuel BRA [1]

Kirk and Jason had to play Kazakstan in the morning to get through to the quarters. They played great, and took the first set 21 – 16. Kulinich-Dyachenko KAZ regrouped in the second set, and got ahead to a small lead, but Kirk and Jason were just too determined. Kulinich-Dyachenko were hitting high and hard, but not consistently enough. Jason was on the spot for a lot of their cross court hits, and if he got a hand to it, he usually got it to a spot where Kirk could give him a set.

Kirk was his usual explosive self, throwing down a lot of good blocks. The final point dragged out when one of the KAZ guys landed in the net to give Jason and Kirk match point. He argued for about 5 minutes, then called an injury time out to try to throw the Kiwis off. To their credit Kirk and Jason ignored the whole show, peppered a bit to keep warm, and then came back out firing. Kirk bombed a jump serve down the guts, which forced their opponent into an error. NZ won 2-0 (21-16, 21-19).

Kirk Pittman moves to receive Jason Lochead's pass

Kirk Pittman moves to receive Jason Lochead’s pass

The second game for the Kiwi’s was a bit tighter. They played a Brazilian team that has apparently been purchased by some rich bloke in Georgia, so that Georgia have some extra athletes at the Olympics. Strange situation, but they are a solid team. It went to three sets.

The GEO team were bigger and had a bit more fire power, but they just didn’t seem able to get anywhere near Jason’s side out. I could see their frustration mounting as Jason rolled line shot after line shot over the block, and then threw the occasional rainbow to the far cross corner when he saw the defender cheating. Kirk and Jason kept the game close with consistent side out, and some awesome defensive work. Jason, again, dug an incredible number of balls, and Kirk was there every time to make sure they got a second touch. (Even when “there” was 5 metres past the baseline). The first two sets went 21 – 19 and 19 – 21, but the third blew out, and GEO cracked under the pressure and frustration. The second set changes were 6 – 4 to NZ, then 10 – 5, 14 – 6 then finally 15 – 6.

It was an absolute pleasure to watch them win the final point. Kirk called Seus straight away and told him to get on a train to Klagenfurt ASAP. They were both stoked! For Kirk and Jason it had been an exceptional day of volleyball. They had to fight hard against all their opponents, but they had been clearly the better team in both games. The Kiwis were just too consistent, too fast, and too composed.

New Zealand will play in the Semi final of the Austrian Men’s Grand Slam tomorrow against Barsouk-Kolodinsky RUS [4].