2018-09-25 10:00:00 CET
After Kolocová’s retirement, the Czech puts her money on a former indoor rival – and they started on the right foot
Kristýna Kolocová’s decision to retire at the age of 30 caught a lot of people in the beach volleyball scene by surprise a few weeks ago. Among them was her partner, Michala Kvapilová.
After playing for the last two years with the London 2012 Olympian and making a run to the World Tour Finals in 2017, the 28-year-old Kvapilová was suddenly left without a partner and needed to reshape her plans of competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympian as soon as possible.
“I was a bit surprised that she retired,” Kvapilová acknowledged. “But at the same time we obviously didn’t have a great season, so I understand her decision in some way. And I’m grateful that she gave the opportunity to play beach volleyball at such a high level.”
598 Likes, 11 Comments - Michala Kvapilová (@misakvapi) on Instagram: "With every ending something new begins 🙏🏼👋🏼 #goodbye"
Shortly after the farewells ended, however, the blocker had to start thinking about her future. Helped by Italian coach Andrea Tomatis, Kvapilová scanned all options available in the Czech player pool until they stumbled in a familiar face.
It was Michaela Kubíčková, a 24-year-old player who had been her opponent a few times during her indoor career. Michaela’s limited experience in beach volleyball could be a concern, but Michala decided to give it a try.
And the outcome couldn’t have been better as the duo ended up topping the podium at the Czech Championship in the end of August, just a few days after’s Kolocová’s retirement announcement.
674 Likes, 11 Comments - Michala Kvapilová (@misakvapi) on Instagram: "No words needed 🤙🏽💪🏼Czech champions 🥇 #czechchampions #beachvolleyball #krevslzyapot"
“We decided to play the Czech Championship and it would be like a test, an opportunity to see how we’d fit together,” the blocker explained. “And it felt great, so I was convinced that we could do well together. Michaela is a positive and strong player who showed she can perform under pressure, especially as she did in the final. It was a perfect start to the partnership, winning the national championship is always a great experience. This tournament showed that our team has a lot of potential.”
It was certainly the biggest victory of Kubíčková’s beach career so far. The defender has spent most of the last years playing indoor and, except for a 21st-place finish at the World Tour one-star event in Siofok last month partnering with 16-year-old Karin Zolnercikova, she has no international experience.
Now with a well-established player by her side, she wants to see how far she can go in the sands.
“Siofok was a valuable experience, even though my partner was very young and the preparation for the tournament was way too short for us to succeed,” she explained. “Now after the successful campaign in Czech Championship with Michala I am looking forward to our debut on the World Tour.”
240 Likes, 7 Comments - Michaela Kubíčková (@kubickovec) on Instagram: "🥇 z MČR 2018 💪🤩🙊#vyhrynikdyneomrzi #beachvolleyball #whendreamscometrue #purejoy #krevslzyapot"
The new team in expected to make its international debut in the three-star event in Qinzhou, China, in the end of the September. Until there, they will to make the most of their time together in order to prepare to face the best teams in the world in the hunt for points in the Olympic rankings.
Kvapilová, who made the transition from indoor to the beach herself two years ago, is aware she’ll have an important role by leading the new team. Even though she’s still relatively young to the beach, the 30 World Tour events she has played in her career grant them a good position to support her younger and less experienced partner.
“I still have a lot to learn, but I already have some experience which I can pass to Michaela,” she stated. ”I've always loved to lead my indoor teams and with Michaela it’s easy because she listens to me and understands the game well. She learns fast and we communicate very well both on and outside the court. Despite of her lack of experience, I’m very confident about our potential as a team.”