06.08.2023 - Vienna
The Dutch team already had a strong performance yesterday in the quarterfinals and won a 3-set battle against world champions Anders Mol and Christian Sørum from Norway and rocked the Red Bull Beach Arena.
The semi-final starts very evenly and until the technical time-out (10:11) no team can pull away by more than one point. After that, an ace by Reznik at 13:15 leads to the first small advantage, but Luini/de Groot immediately take the time-out. The team from Ukraine continues to play an almost error-free sideout and also gets the first set point at 19:20, but this cannot be used, because Reznik's service sails into the out. De Groot follows up with a service winner and then defends the attempt of a rainbow shot and the first set goes to the interim duo from the Netherlands.
The second set starts similarly with a service ace and good defense actions by de Groot resulting in an early lead. The Ukrainians took an early timeout at 6:2. The short timeout had its effect and Popov/Reznik caught up 2 points. Two direct attacking mistakes by de Groot and a good attack from the defense by Popov force the Dutch into a timeout at 8:7. Then a video challenge from the Ukrainians breaks up a net touch from de Groot and a subsequent kill block from Reznik leads to Popov/Reznik's first lead of the set. After that, the match went back and forth and neither team was able to take a clear lead. A decisive point in crunch time is scored by a fierce kill block by Luini to make it 19:17, immediately but followed by a block on the other side by the 2.07m tall Ukrainian blocker Reznik. Thus a flawless sideout by a diagonal hit of Luini brings the first match point to 20:18, which is also directly converted by a strong defense of de Groot, who falls behind into the opponent's field.
The two Dutchmen fall into each other's arms and can hardly believe that their dream continues and that they can play in the final in the evening. But also the Ukrainians Popov/Reznik will return to the Red Bull Beach Arena one last time and play for the bronze medal.