I have already reported on Friday’s match (see below); here we take a look at the other three matches from week four of the championship.
Saturday 30th January, Pamplona
OLAIZOLA II – MENDIZABAL II beat GONZALEZ – LASKURAIN 22-9
Aimar Olaizola pulled off the performance of the week in Labrit to annihilate Sebastien Gonzalez and Aritz Laskurain. The forward from Goizueta treated a full house to an exhibition match of poise and power, unleashing a torrent of crosscourt winners from his brutal left arm. The Asegarce pair, champions two years ago and runners up last year, needed a win here to avoid a slide down the standings, and Olaizola left nothing to chance, seizing the initiative right from the start; the score was 11-2 within fifteen minutes of play. Gonzalez had no answer to his rampant opponent and played at a level well below his best. Laskurain could do little but try and contain his opponents, but with a resurgent Oier Mendizabal alongside him, he struggled even to do that. Mendizabal played badly last week but was a changed man here, showing strength, accuracy and tactical astuteness. The night though, belonged to Olaizola who left with eleven winners against his name to Gonzalez’ one. The statistics tell the story.
Scoring sequence: 7-0, 7-2, 11-3, 12-5, 14-7, 19-8, 20-9, 22-9
Sunday 31st January, Eibar
MARTINEZ DE IRUJO – BEROIZ beat BENGOETXEA VI – OTXANDORENA 22-18
Juan Martinez de Irujo and Mikel Beroiz remain unbeaten in the championship after an intense encounter at Astelena. The Aspe duo, which mixes winning experience with supreme young talent, fell behind initially but after going ahead at 8-7 was never again headed. Oinatz Bengoetxea and Inaki Otxandorena stuck manfully to the task and scrapped until the bitter end, but could not close the gap, despite some sterling defence. Beroiz was the standout player of the encounter, showing a maturity which belies his twenty years. Irujo for his part played some excellent points, but like Bengoetxea, also committed errors.The losers are now in deep trouble with one point from four games, and will need determination and luck in abundance to reach the semi finals.
Scoring sequence: 0-1, 1-1, 1-3, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 5-7, 10-7, 10-8, 15-8, 15-11, 16-11, 16-14, 19-14, 19-15, 20-16, 21-18, 22-18.
Monday 1st February, Tolosa
XALA – ZUBIETA beat OLAIZOLA I – APRAIZ 22-18
Yves Salaberry and Aitor Zubieta kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi finals with their second win in four matches. Both couples understood the need for a result at this crucial point in the competition where the contenders begin to sort themselves from the also-rans, and the tension this created was evident in the game. Asier Olaizola played with vigour but also made costly errors, and was punished by Xala’s volleying. Alexis Apraiz, replacing the injured Patxi Ruiz, made an solid and promising debut in defence but his efforts were insufficient to bring the Asegarce pair their desired win. They must now fight for all their worth to escape elimination. (source: Asegarce)
Scoring sequence: 5-0, 5-2, 8-2, 8-7, 12-7, 12-12, 13-12, 13-13, 14-13, 14-14, 14-16, 16-16, 16-17, 17-17, 17-20, 18-20, 18-22.
For the full standings after the fourth week of matches, visit the Asegarce homepage and click on the box in the bottom right hand quarter.
Image from: Astore