Warsaw, Poland, June 12, 2019 – Laura Ludwig & Margareta Kozuch are one of the new pairings, formed in a recent German reshuffle ahead of the women’s 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Championship. They were rewarded with a wild card to be able to play in Hamburg later this month and maybe the fact that Ludwig is the reigning Olympic and world champion returning from maternity leave and Kozuch was actually born in the northern German city may have something to do with it.
“It’s very exciting! We will play in my hometown. I was born there and I can’t wait to compete there,” Maggie Kozuch told fivb.com on the premises of the Warsaw four-star stop on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. “I am very grateful for receiving the wild card. We are a new team and, of course, we have this little issue with the points, so we are very thankful for this opportunity and we hope we can show our best beach volleyball on the courts in Hamburg.”
Warsaw is the fifth World Tour event Ludwig & Kozuch are playing together since they teamed up earlier this year, setting aside their one-off cooperation at the Porec Major in 2017. Starting from the first round of qualifications, the German duo already claimed their first win on Polish sand, a 2-0 (21-15, 21-10) shutout of Poland’s Marta Duda & Marta Lodej, and look forward to their deciding qualifier against Spain’s Amaranta Fernandez Navarro & Angela Lobato Herrero later on Wednesday.
“I went through a little struggle this morning, but, anyway, I am happy that we won. In general, we need to do a little bit more in the next game,” Kozuch commented and went on to explain why she feels at home in Warsaw as well. “I mentioned that I was born in Hamburg, but my roots are actually in Poland, so I am always happy to come back here and be around Polish people. I feel like home in Poland and I love being here.”
Kozuch serves during her team’s first qualification match at Warsaw
Maggie Kozuch was a big international indoor volleyball star before she followed her heart to switch to the sand in 2017. Last year, she won her first World Tour medal, an Ostrava four-star bronze in partnership with Karla Borger. After intensive pre-season training, Ludwig & Kozuch appeared at their first 2019 World Tour event together in late April to finish 25th at Xiamen. They followed up with two ninths, at Kuala Lumpur and Jinjiang, before dropping back to 25th a couple of weeks ago at Ostrava. Kozuch feels that she has been learning a lot from this new partnership with a well-seasoned and successful beacher, such as Ludwig, and hopes their hard work will start paying off soon.
“It’s very nice; it’s a whole new thing,” the 32-year-old athlete said about playing alongside a reigning Olympic and world champ. “I am learning a lot. Having Laura by my side, with a lot of experience, is a different beach volleyball compared to what I was playing before. It’s a new situation for her as well, especially since she is now a mom, and I am also a new partner from her side. Having her by my side makes me very happy. Having a little bit of this beach volleyball wisdom to learn from her is so great. We are both figuring each other out and it’s a really interesting project. I can’t wait to get into a constant flow. Until now, there was a lot of learning for me, but now I think I am ready to really do what I have tried to put into the sand, and into my body actually, for the last months since the pre-season.”
Ludwig & Kozuch celebrate during a match at Kuala Lumpur
The Warsaw four-star is actually the last high-level event before the World Championship gets underway on June 28. Will this time be enough for Laura and Maggie to fine-tune their game together for this year’s flagship tournament?
“It is what it is. I wouldn’t judge if it is enough or not enough. If we compare to teams that have played for, say, four years together, maybe it is not enough… However, we are trying to do everything in the now, to prepare as best as possible and be ready for the World Championship.”