Olsztyn, Poland, August 26, 2015 – An injury break gave Sophie van Gestel and Jantine van der Vlist much-needed time to reflect and get their minds straight before starting the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Olsztyn Grand Slam main draw on Wednesday.
The new Dutch pair showed that they’re as strong as ever, with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) win over fourth seeded Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta in their opening.
The 29th seeded Dutch pair already had two wins under their belt from qualification on Tuesday and they carried that form into the first day of pool play.
“We played really well,” Van Gestel said. “We put pressure on them and we are really happy we won with 2-0.
“We gained confidence from our wins in qualification and we had a really good game plan and it worked out pretty good.”
They would not reveal much about their game plan, but it was obvious that the Dutch targeted Juliana, while Van der Vlist blocked well against the 32-year old Brazilian star.
“Yes, we had a good block on Juliana and our serving was good,” Van der Vlist added. “It was a little bit windy, so we could do a little bit more with the serve. It was good serving and block defence from our side.”
Van Gestel used to play with Madelein Meppelink, but took a break after the 2012 London Olympics. This season the 24-year old defender teamed up with the 29-year-old Van der Vlist, before the new pair was forced to take a break in the middle of the season.
“During the World Champs I had an ab injury,” Van Gestel explained. “So I had to take a break for six, seven weeks. That was actually quite long, so I am happy we are back.”
“I think this time-out was good for us,” van der Vlist said. “It gave us the time to just refocus on the things we want to do better. In the beginning we had some struggles. We get along very well, that works well. But in confidence and helping each other on the court. That needed a little time.”
So far the Dutch pair began in qualification at the Fuzhou Open, Prague Open and the Stavanger Major. Last week in Long Beach, after the injury break, they finally managed to reach main draw and placed 17th.
“Especially after the break you can see that we are improving more and more,” van der Vlist said. “That’s positive, we are happy with it.”