The feelings in Utrecht went all over the place. On the third day of CM.com King of the Court Utrecht 2021 the semifinal spots were on the line. The crowds saw great performances by Dutch teams, but also saw one of the favorites drop out. The most incredible feelings were shared when Utrecht honored the career of Marleen Ramond-van Iersel. She will retire after this tournament and was the well-deserved center of attention.
With semifinal spots up for grabs the teams even more than in the first phase gave it their all. Stress was mounting on CM.com King of the Court Utrecht’s Friday. One of the most exciting moments of the third day happened in the first men’s match. With one and a half minutes to go Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde of the Netherlands were still on 0 points. But with a run of six they ousted the Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle. The group was eventually won by Sweden’s David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig. Varenhorst / Van de Velde and German twins David and Bennet Poniewaz also went through to the semis.
Utrecht had to say goodbye to Canadians Mend and Burlacu, Koekelkoren / Van Walle have to prepare for Saturday’s playoff battle.
The biggest upset came in the second men’s match of the day. 2018 Kings of Utrecht, Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira, failed to get to the King’s side despite using their golden ball from the first phase. It was a first for King of the Court.
The group was dominated by two Dutch teams. Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen won each round and earned themselves a golden ball for the second time. Dirk Boehlé and Mart van Werkhoven went along with all fun and games and took second spot before Slovenians Nejc Zemljak and Jan Pokeršnik. Canadian Sam Schachter and Italian Alex Ranghieri went out in the second round and have to play in Saturday’s playoff.
The final showdown in the gladiator pit on the Jaarbeursplein was an absolute entertainment masterpiece. The crowd was on fire and riled the teams on to great highs. Unfortunately local heroes Stefan Boermans and Yorick de Groot were unable to make it out of the first round. They are out of the tournament. Czech youngsters Vaclav Bercik and Jiri Sedlak stunned the audience with great plays, but they move on to the playoff.
Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins took control of the stadium and made everyone cheer for them after the Dutch were eliminated. It worked, because they reached fifteen points before the time was up. With them to the semifinals they took Marco Krattiger / Moritz Pristauz and Guto / Arthur.
The playoff for the last spot in the semis will be nothing short of a thriller. One fifteen-minute round, three top teams. Bercik / Sedlak will face Koekelkoren / Van Walle and Schachter / Ranghieri.
Check all results and the schedule here.
The team to beat in the first women’s match was that of Nina Betschart and Tanja Hüberli. The European champions of Vienna seem to have it all under control. Pressure in serving, stability in side-out. It’s the perfect play for King of the Court. The Swiss women won all of the rounds and they earned the Golden Ball for the semifinals.
They are joined by Japan’s Suzuki and Ishii, who have really found their rhythm in King of the Court after last week’s performance in Hamburg. The newly formed couple of Sanne Keizer and Mexime van Driel (due to Madelein Meppelink pulling out with an injury) also progressed to the semis. The Brazil/American tandem of Eunyce Verçosa and Sarah Schermerhorn was eliminated in the first round. Hamburg’s bronze medalists Isabel Schneider and Victoria Bieneck ended in fourth, but they pulled out for the playoffs. They are replaced Eunyce Verçosa and Sarah Schermerhorn
Perhaps the biggest shock happened in the first round of the second match on Friday, Hamburg’s Queen Laura Ludwig, Olympic champion from Rio 2016, was eliminated with partner Anastasija Kravcenoka from Latvia. The pair just lost to Dutch sisters Brecht and Emma Piersma, who ended the group in fourth place and will report to the playoff Saturday morning.
In the fifteen-minute decider between Swiss Esmee Böbner / Zoé Vergé-Dépré, Brazil’s Barbara / Carol and Italian-Spanish duo Marta Menegatti / Maria Belén Carro went to the South-American couple, who scored 13 points and didn’t even need their golden ball from the first phase.
In the evening session most attention went to Marleen Ramond-van Iersel. Dutch volleyball Association Nevobo’s Sports Director Michel Everaert paid tribute to her nineteen-year long career and all of her loved ones had left voice messages that were played inside the stadium. Utrecht bade farewell to the grand lady of Dutch Beach Volleyball, although she’s not out of the tournament yet. As the substitute player for injured Joana Heidrich Van Iersel reached the semifinals together with Anouk Vergé-Dépré in a group where Dutchies Katja Stam and Raïsa Schoon won their second Golden Ball of the tournament. The McNamara twins Megan and Nicole also got their ticket to the semifinals.
On Saturday the last spot to be filled for the semifinals will be contested in a playoff between three teams. Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider pulled out, they are replaced Eunyce Verçosa and Sarah Schermerhorn. Sisters Emma and Brecht Piersma and the Spanish-Austrian combination of Angela Lobato and Anja Dörfler. They will play one round of fifteen minutes, the team with the most points will earn the last spot in the semis.
Check all results and the schedule here.
It will be finals day in Utrecht tomorrow. We’ll start pretty early, from 11.30 am the playoffs will begin. Join us on the livestream and experience a full day of King of the Court action. On Saturday night the Queens and Kings will be crowned, you can’t miss this one!