Hosts Germany beat Kazakhstan to seal Tokyo 2020 berth

Ukraine claimed the bronze medal beating Croatia 07 Jun 2021
German sitting volleyball players celebrate on the court
Germany secured a place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
ⒸRalf Kuckuck / DBS
By World ParaVolley

Hosts Germany rallied from a set down to win the Tokyo 2020 Men’s Qualification Tournament in Duisburg beating Kazakhstan 3-1 (17-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-23) in the final.

Ukraine claimed the bronze medal with their straight-sets defeat of Croatia, while the United States beat Canada in a down-to-the-wire five-set encounter to claim fifth place.

The Germans will join Japan, Iran, Bosnia & Herzegovina, the Russian Paralympic Committee, Brazil, China and Egypt in August at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

“I’m very happy for the players, the federation, the staff and the fans. We want to play for a top result in Tokyo. We don’t want to be there just to play. I think we can make it to the semi-final and maybe then nothing can stop us,” said a jubilant German coach Michael Merten.

Kazakhstan had a hot start in the match as their main hitter Perdebay Namuratov got involved early on in scoring. Kazakhstan made a strong start and overpowered Germany in the first set 25-17 after Alexandr Demeuov hit clear over the block.

The second set showed a totally different Germany. Every point made was met with huge enthusiasm and they just kept gaining in confidence. Halfway through the second game the Germans created a 20-2 lead before going to level the match at 1-1 with a 25-13 win.

German sitting volleyball player about to hit the ball with Kazakh players on the other side of the net trying to intercept
Ⓒ Ralf Kuckuck / DBS

Kazakhstan regrouped and came back on court with the same determination as in the opening set. Captain Berik Izmaganbetov started the 4-0 run with an ace, but that sparked up the German side to come up with their own charge.

As both teams gave it their all in the third game, power hitter Dominik Albrecht and Heiko Wiesenthal delivered when points mattered most, as the former scored off the block and the latter made brilliant hits on the second ball to close the game 25-21 in their favour.

The Germans clearly had momentum in the fourth set and mounted an eight-point lead, but the fight with Kazakhstan was far from over. After the timeout at 18-10, the Kazakhs won the first three points that propelled them to continue their run. They blocked tournament MVP Albrecht twice in a row to level the score at 21-all, and even swung the momentum to their side with a 23-22 lead when Izmaganbetov scored on an attack.

The Germans’ hopes almost faded, but Alexander Schiffler block got them back in the game. And one point later, they were on match point, which was converted into a win when an Izamaganbetov hit landed out of bounds. The Germans erupted into celebration as they secured the final Tokyo 2020 ticket after an exhausting battle.

“Great moment, we are very happy to win this match. The first set wasn’t that good, it went to Kazakhstan. But then we turned the game. It was nervous at the beginning; we didn’t have the feel for the ball. We made too many errors. In the remaining sets we played much better. This is the thing we have wanted. We have been training for two years for this moment. And we are very, very happy to have the ticket for Tokyo,” said a beaming Wiesenthal, who for his effort walked away with the best defender award.

Ukraine beat Croatia for bronze in straight set 25-16, 25-19, 25-16

The bronze medal match was a replay of the tournament’s first match of the tournament between Ukraine and Croatia. Ukraine won in straight sets in their earlier encounter on Tuesday and had the same intention in their second encounter.

Playing with strongholds Denys Bytchenko and captain Sergii Shevchenko, Ukraine had the edge right from the start. Croatia did not seem to have brought the same energy as they had displayed against Kazakhstan in the semifinal.

Croatian and Ukrainian sitting volleyball players separated by the net trying to reach the ball
Ⓒ Ralf Kuckuck / DBS

Ukraine moved ahead 1-0 after Ruslan Horyakin won a blocking battle. In the second set Ukraine created a big gap right away, and within a minute it was 11-3. Croatia brought in Hrvoje Rados and that made a bit of a difference for them as he got a few blocks in and served an ace, but Ukraine remained dominant. Roman Pryshchepa hit hard on set point to secure the win for Ukraine at 25-19.

Croatia had a fiery start in the third set, taking a 5-1 lead but it didn’t last as Bytchenko made a few important blocks to bring the score to a deadlock at 6-all. The Ukranians pushed one last time, leaving Croatia to pick up the pieces with a 25-16 win and seize the bronze medal .

US beat arch rivals Canada 3-2 (23-25, 26-24, 32-34, 25-21, 15-11)

The battle for fifth between two ParaVolley Pan America teams was a tight race until the end as both sides refused to give up in every rally, resulting to two-point margin finishes in the first three sets.

Canada opened the match with a win in the first set 25-23 after Doug Learoyd hit an unstoppable serve. In the second set, the United States delivered when it mattered the most. As they were up 24-19, they failed to convert on five set points, but on the sixth attempt, Roderik Green hit a cross court that gave USA the win to level the match at 1-1.

The third was an absolute scorcher of a set as Canada had six set points, while USA had four. On Canada’s seventh set point, they were able to force the decision. The Jose Rebelo serve caused a problem on the defence of USA. Canada got the 2-1 set advantage with a 34-32 win.

US sitting volleyball team chatting on the floor
Ⓒ Ralf Kuckuck / DBS

The first light between the teams came from the fourth set on. USA started to get the momentum and won the fourth 25-21. In the fifth the difference was made on serve by Zachery Upp. He hit two aces, which allowed his team to extend the lead to 12-8.

Captain Eric Duda was the one pulling the final trigger, a touched spike resulted in the 15-11 win. United Stated finished fifth in Duisburg, while Canada had to settle for sixth place.

“Canada are always going to give us their best. We play them the most of any other country. We know each other, so we know what we can expect. It always makes for a fun match. Back to the drawing board, we’re going to focus on zonals to qualify for the World Championships. That’s our next goal,” said Duda.

Awards: Best server: Denys Bytchenko, Ukraine; Best setter: Torben Schiewe, Germany; Best defender: Heiko Wiesenthal, Germany; Best receiver: Nenad  Ilibasic, Croatia; Best blocker: Zhangali Suieuov, Kazakhstan; Best spiker: Perdebay Namuratov, Kazakhstan; MVP: Dominik Albrecht, Germany