Russian derby sets Ukolova and Birlova on way

Amsterdam, the Netherlands, June 28, 2015 – Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Birlova may have had to wait a day longer than most other teams, but they always knew that they would face a tough opener when they played their first match of the Netherlands 2015, FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships on day three. 

Their opponents were fellow Russians Ekaterina Syrtseva and Maria Prokopeva, a team they often train with, but Ukolova and Birlova hit the ground running with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) victory.

“Matches between teams from the same country are always tough because we know each other really well,” Ukolova said. 

“We came and watched our men’s team (Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov) play on centre court because we wanted to feel the atmosphere and because they were playing the Netherlands the atmosphere was great and it was so much fun. I think it gave us a little bit of adrenalin.”

Russia are still waiting for the first medal in the women’s tournament, though Dmitri Barsoek and Igor Kolodinski won men’s silver at Gstaad 2007. 

Ukolova and Birlova have been back playing together since the start of the year. In the past they won gold at the 2012 Klagenfurt Grand Slam and the 2013 Anapa Open and are aiming for another podium place in the Netherlands, even if they realise it won’t be easy.

“Our ambition is to win a medal here, like everyone else,” Ukolova said. “Everybody wants a medal at a World Championships because they are only every two years and I think it is everyone’s wish to win a medal here.”


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