2016-05-04 12:14:00 CEST

Ukrainians upset Poles in Sochi shock

Russia ready for Sochi pool stage drama

Iaroslav Gordieiev (left) and Mykola Babich battled their way through to the pool stage at Sochi on Tuesday. Photo credit: FIVB.Iaroslav Gordieiev (left) and Mykola Babich battled their way through to the pool stage at Sochi on Tuesday. Photo credit: FIVB.

The Sochi Open truly springs into action on Wednesday as the pool stages get under way but what’s this? There’s already been a surprise in Russia?!

Oh yes. For your weekly helping of underdog action look no further than Ukrainians Mykola Babich and Iaroslav Gordieiev. Seeded 16th of 21 teams nobody gave them much of a chance of making an impact.

And a place in the pool stages certainly seemed a hell of long way off in their first qualifying match on Tuesday when they lost the first set to Ruslans Sorokins/Ingars Ivanovs (LAT). But they bounced back, won through, and swept that confidence with them in to the next round where they caused a massive upset.

Polish pair Maciej Kosiak and Maciej Rudol were top seeds but that counted for nothing against the plucky Ukrainians, who edged a fascinating tussle with a third-set triumph in an epic 48 minutes.

Babich and Gordieiev’s prize is a place in pool B alongside recent Xiamen Open winners Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira (ESP). All the best boys!

Excitement is the name of the game and there’s a number of pulsating clashes in prospect in the men’s pools. Perhaps the pick of them lies in Pool H when home favorites Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov go head-to-head with Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo. Last year’s gold medalists Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins (LAT) take on teams from France, Canada and Belarus.

While the top seeds in the men’s qualification bit the dust, there were no such problems for the top women. Austrian hopes Stefanie Schwaiger and Barbara Hansel – who won silver in Xiamenbounced happily through to Pool B where they will meet teams from USA, Poland and Ukraine.

The top seeds are Germany’s Karla Borger and Britta Büthe but 2015 winners, Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth (ITA), are third seeds this time round and face competition from partnerships from Russia, Switzerland and Finland in a bid to retain their crown.

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