Friday 5th November, Estella: MARTINEZ DE IRUJO beat PATXI RUIZ 22-12
Home advantage was not enough for the game Patxi Ruiz in Estella. Irujo proved unstoppable, his volleying especially stunning. Ruiz showed flashes of great class, hooking well, and using the wide court to his advantage, but he was unable to eat into his illustrious opponent’s early lead. It is with some inevitability that Irujo marches on, laying down a formidable challenge.
Friday 5th November, Larrainzar: GONZALEZ beat URRUTIKOETXEA 22-9
This match saw the reigning champion face the reigning second tier champion, in a clash of experience versus youth. Gonzalez prevailed, deploying more firepower than his talented young opponent could counter, especially in the long game. Urrutikoetxea lacked his usual spark and the fight which has brought him thus far, but he will will be back for more in future years.
Saturday 6th November, Pamplona: TITIN III beat BERASALUZE VIII 22-11
Pablo Berasaluze was despatched at Labrit by a Titin in brutal mood. The veteran Riojan put nine points on the board without answer early on, aided by some excellent serving which netted him four aces. Berasaluze looked stiff and helpless in the face of the onslaught. The man from Berriz came back well, displaying some impressive shot making, but he needed to take risks and too often they did not come off.
Sunday 7th November, Eibar: BARRIOLA beat RETEGI BI 22-14
An upset looked to be very much on when Julen Retegi seized the early advantage at Astelena, but the cool and unflappable Abel Barriola hit his stride, turning 1-6 into 6-6, before surging ahead to a ten point lead at 20-10. There was no route back for Retegi, last year’s surprise package, as Barriola asserted his dominance with some ease in the final analysis.
The semi-final line up is now complete, and four pelotaris, all from Aspe, proceed to the elite league. Each will play the other three in a round robin which runs until November 28th. Proceedings get underway on saturday when BARRIOLA and GONZALEZ play in Pamplona. On Sunday, TITIN II plays MARTINEZ DE IRUJO in Logrono.
Image from Kiroldegi