03.07.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil saw elimination very close, but the Americans turned things around and passed the major test of their still young partnership when they came from behind to defeat Germans Chantal Laboureur and Sandra Ittlinger in a packed Red Bull Beach Arena and advanced to the Round of 16 of the 2019 Beach Volleyball World Championships.
The 23-year-old Claes and the 22-year-old Sponcil were just three points away from elimination when the Germans had an 18-14 lead in the second set after they had won the first, but the Americans found their best game in the deciding moments and, pushed by a great individual performance of Claes, who scored impressive 32 points, came back to win it 19-21, 21-19, 15-10.
“It was 18-14 and Kelly just told me that there was no one she’d rather be playing with than me,” Sponcil said afterwards. “I was struggling on side out, but that a switch in that timeout. We knew it was now or never and we made a push to win the set and force a third with some great serves. I’m not excited about the way I played, but Kelly carried us through.”
Besides of the considerable deficit they had to make up for, the Americans had also to keep their minds strong as they had not only the Germans, but thousands of their loyal and loud fans against them.
“It’s obviously not fun having the whole crowd cheering against you, but just being in an arena that big with that many people, it’s really an amazing experience,” Claes added. “I’m really glad and honored that we got that opportunity and that we were able to compete in such a great stage, I had an amazing time. They’re a great team and a very consistent one, so to just come back, it was fanstastic.”
The Americans will now play Italians Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth, who also came from behind and needed all three sets (24-26, 21-17, 16-14) to overcome Argentineans Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra in the Round of 32.