2017-07-29 18:39:00 CET
The home favorites make the knockout stages with a second win of the competition
When you’re playing in front of “the best fans in the world”, battling through a knee injury can often be just a small concern at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships presented by A1.
That was the feeling for Katharina Schützenhöfer on Red Bull Beach Arena at least, as the home Viennese fans roared her and Stefanie Schwaiger into the knockout stages of the World Championships thanks to a second win of the competition.
That was to come against Ekaterina Birlova and Nadezda Makroguzova, defeating the Russian pair in straight sets – the perfect way to secure their place in the latter stages.
That was in spite of Schützenhöfer continuing to have strapping on a knee that has constantly proved troublesome, keeping her out of recent action in preparation for the World Championships.
But with the Red Bull Beach Arena at their vocal best on Saturday afternoon, nothing was going to get in her way of striving for victory.
“The start of the match was not that good, but we got it back and won the second set well,” she said. “The crowd were once again amazing, they were supporting us so much and we’re really pleased to win a difficult game.
“The stadium was full and they are cheering you to win which is a nice feeling, that gives us that extra push to win the game and get to our highest level.
“I couldn’t play the last two tournaments so it was hard to know how we’d go so it was about getting taking the first step. It was a little bit difficult to get on the court immediately, but I take it game by game and hopefully the crowd can help us through.
“The crowd yesterday was amazing but today was a little bit better – I didn’t expect this much but they are the best crowd in the world.”
Now with qualification secured, there is a sense of relief for the 12th-seed hosts that their Viennese adventure won’t be coming to an end quite yet.
Worryingly for their opposition, their best is still to come too, with a chance to test that out in their final pool match when Kristyna Kolocova and Michala Kvapilova come to town on Monday.
And while a place in next weekend’s finals is holding plenty of allure for Schützenhöfer and Schwaiger, the former remains keen to take things one game at a time.
“We have a game against Czech Republic to decide first or second, to top the pool would be really nice but our first goal was to get out of the pool and now we’ve done that, so we’re very happy,” she added.
“The second set was very good but we know we can do better still, and if we want to get far in this tournament then we need to play better, that’s our goal – game-by-game.
“Now we’re out of the pools we’ll fight for that top spot, then we’ll see what we can do. I’d love to play until next weekend but it will be very, very difficult.”
Find out if the home heroes can top the group on Monday at 4pm CET, live on BeachStream. Click here to sign-up!
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