2016-11-08 16:42:00 CEST
Weekend win is the perfect end to the best season yet
Okay, so it wasn’t the Olympics or a Swatch Major Series title, but for Barbora Hermannová, winning the final European tournament of the season at the weekend was a pretty big deal.
Not only did the Czech star and her partner Marketa Slukova triumph on home sand at the CEV Satellite event in Pelhřimov, but the victory also served as the perfect early birthday present.
And the triumph for Barbora, who celebrated her 26th birthday on Monday, also served as a fitting end to the best season of her blossoming career on the beach to date.
In what has been a hectic year on the sand for every athlete focusing on the Olympics, Barbora has enjoyed a healthy tournament record – the height of which was her and Marketa’s gold medal at the Antalya Open in October 2015.
The pair swept all before them in style to land their first international FIVB World Tour title, coming from behind to beat Americans Jennifer Kessy and Emily Day in the semifinal before crushing Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy in straight sets in a brilliant display of beach volleyball.
In sport there’s a wonderful thing called momentum – and together with Marketa, Barbora never looked back as the duo went on a brilliant run of form. In the 15 tournaments that followed that gold in Turkey the pair have never finished outside of the top 17 and finished in the top 10 on eight of those 15 occasions.
Damn right, and when you take a closer look at the results you see just how much of a force this tandem has become. In June, Barbora and Marketa came mighty close to securing the coveted European title, only to be denied by the irrepressible Ludwig/Walkenhorst in the final. Still, European silver medalists has a pretty good ring to it.
Having qualified for her first Olympics via the Continental Cup, Barbora was ready for the Copacabana – but the pair were faced with a tough group, comprising Agatha/Barbara, Liliana/Elsa and Gallay/Klug. If there was a pool you did not want to be drawn in, this was it.
But a win over Argentines Gallay/Klug gave Barbora and Marketa a whiff of the knockout stages. However, their record in the pool play meant a Lucky Loser Play-Off tie would determine whether they would make it through to a next match. Unfortunately for them, they could not replicate their success over Ana and Georgina and their Olympic dream was ended by Russians Birlova/Ukolova.
There was no shame in that defeat on the world’s greatest stage and the pair bounced back to record a ninth-place finish at the Long Beach Grand Slam in their final FIVB World Tour event of the campaign.
A break from beach volleyball – a time which saw Marketa tie the knot – followed before their return ‘home’ to Pelhřimov saw them make it back-to-back titles in the CEV event on home sand.
It was the perfect end to a perfect season - if there’s a team to keep your eyes on in 2017 remember you heard it here first!
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