The 2018 volleyball season has begun, and with it comes the opportunity to see some of the best beach volleyball players in the world play against each other. The AVP Tour is hosting tournaments this season, and many of the top players are choosing to play in these early season tournaments instead of waiting for the FIVB Open Tours.
This is an interesting choice as the AVP points do not count towards FIVB ranking points, so players have less incentive to play in these tournaments. It could be because they want some more exposure, or just because they want to test their skills against other countries outside of the USA.
This week saw one of the most competitive tournaments of the year with some new partnerships on court.
Ludwig/Kozuch vs. Agatha/Duda was a Beach volleyball match that took place on Thursday, July 5 at 7:00pm. This match was a part of the AVP Tour in Long Beach, California.
The win went to Agatha and Duda in a close 3-2 win. Ludwig and Kozuch had an impressive game 1 win but couldn’t quite pull off the second game win. Agatha and Duda pulled off a close game 3 win to secure the win for their team.
This match was interesting because although both teams are national level players, Ludwig and Kozuch are from Germany while Agatha and Duda are from Brazil. Although there is no ill will between these national teams, there was some intense competition seen on the court.
Who are Ludwig and Kozuch?
Ludwig is Florian Ludwig, a 27-year-old who plays for the Bundesliga team of TV Lünen. He and Kozuch both play in the outside hitters position.
Kozuch is Tomas Kozuch, a 25-year-old who plays for AZS Politechnika Warszawa in Poland. He also plays the outside hitter position.
The two have been playing together as a pair since 2013. They are considered one of the best pairs in the world and have won many titles together including gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships.
During this match, they both scored 10 points each making it difficult for Agatha and Duda to keep up with their scoring. The duo also had many digs, which is when you jump or run into your opponent to block their shot, but they were able to get over 100 combined due to their efficient scoring.
Who are Agatha and Duda?
Agatha is one of the most successful female beach volleyball players of all time. She and her partner, Duda, have won several tournaments together and are ranked second in the world.
Prior to her professional career, Agatha studied physical education and sports education at the University of Silesia in Poland. She has an incredible work ethic that has helped her succeed both in and out of the sand.
Duda started playing volleyball when she was eight years old. She credits her parents for supporting her interest in the sport, helping her find good coaches, and buying her equipment so she could play.
These two have a great friendship off the court, which definitely helps their performance as a team. They like to hang out and watch movies together when they are not practicing or competing. More info on Agatha/Duda can be found on their Wikipedia pages.
What happened in the match?
In the first and second sets, US beach volleyball duos Agatha and Duda and Ludwig and Kozuch battled fiercely. All four pairs played excellent sets, with lots of spikes, blocks, and dives.
Agatha/Duda took the first set 21-17, with Ludwig/Kozuch taking the second set 22-20. In the third set, it was a tie at 20 points each before Agatha/Duda won the match with a final point.
The third set was very close until a few mistakes by Ludwig/Kozuch let Agatha/Duda Beach win the set. A big factor in this was that Agatha got more serves than Ludwig did, which allowed her to get more points on the board.
However, despite losing in straight sets to Agatha/Duda Beach, both Ludwig/Kozuch and Ludwig/Kapler said that they were very proud of how they played.
The first set was very close with neither team getting a big lead until the end
Both teams played very well, but Ludwig/Kozuch came out on top with a final score of 22-20. Agatha and Duda played very well, but Ludwig and Kozuch just had some extra points at the end to secure the set.
The first set can be difficult because you don’t know what the other team is going to do or how they play. Once you get a feel for them, it gets easier to strategize how to beat them.
We saw that in this set when Ludwig and Kozuch started to make more adjustments towards the end of the set when they got a feel for Agatha and Duda’s playing style. They started getting more points as a result which helped them win the set.
The second set was completely dominated by Ludwig and Kozuch
Agatha and Duda had a strong start to the set, winning the first few points. However, Ludwig and Kozuch took over quickly, winning the next several points.
Agatha and Duda managed to win a few points back, but Ludwig and Kozuch kept a strong lead. Eventually, Ludwig and Kozuch won the set with a score of 15-12. Agatha and Duda did very well, however, keeping up with the more experienced players.
The third set was closer than the second set, with both teams almost matching each other point for point. Once again, Ludwig and Kozuch took control and pulled ahead of Agatha and Duda Beach in the end to win the set 15-12.
The last set was very close until halfway through when Agatha and Duda Beach pulled ahead slightly.
Highlights of the match include a spectacular dive by Duda to save a ball
Agatha and Duda make a spectacular pair on the beach volleyball court. The two have been playing together for years, and it shows in their chemistry and ability to read each other.
Agatha has many years of experience playing indoor volleyball, which comes in handy when they play on the beach. Their skill levels are almost equal, which makes for an even match.
The pair won the FIVB tournament last year, proving their dominance. They are looking to continue their success this year at the Olympics!
Agatha and Duda had a close match against Ludwig/Kozuch, with the final point being 21-20 in favor of Agatha and Duda. Despite losing the set by one point, they were able to win the game by two points, meaning they retained their title as champions.
Kozuch had several spectacular serves throughout the match
One of the most impressive parts of Kozuch’s game is her serve. She has a number of different serves she can use, and she can hit them with varying speeds.
She can use a slow pitch serve, a medium-speed serve, and a fast pitch serve. All of these have different advantages and disadvantages, which she uses tactically depending on the opponent.
Against Ludwig/Kozuch, she used her fast pitch serves several times to great effect. She was able to put the ball in places that were difficult for Ludwig/Kozuch to get to, even when they jumped early.
This served as an advantage for Poland as it got them points early in the set. Later in the set, Kozuch used her slower serves to draw Agatha/Duda out of position before hitting the ball across the net. This was more effective at drawing points than the fast serves because of timing.