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2018-03-04 02:53:00 CET

European wait for US gold one step closer

Lupo/Nicolai on the brink of glory on US sand after semi triumph

Lupo (left) and Nicolai are aiming to become the first European team to win gold in the US in 22 yearsLupo (left) and Nicolai are aiming to become the first European team to win gold in the US in 22 years

Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai are just one win away from ending a 22-year wait for a European gold medal on US soil when they play in the Fort Lauderdale Major final on Sunday.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalists and two-time European champions edged a fascinating battle against Brazilians Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley in a breathtaking semifinal.

Not since Björn Maaseide and Jan Kvalheim’s victory in 1996 on Hermosa Beach have a European team stood on top of the podium on the FIVB World Tour.

And after Lupo and Nicolai’s 24-22, 25-23 win over the South Americans, Europe have a chance to end over two decades without gold on American sand.

Nicolao, who struck six important blocks in a breathless 54 minutes of action, was thrilled to be one step nearer to winning the top prize.

“That was the hardest match we’ve played this week,” said the 29-year-old. “They played amazing but so did we. I liked playing the night session in front of all these fans.

“We knew it would be tough against the Brazilians. Pedro is such a good teacher for George and we knew there was pressure on us because there were so many fans watching.

“We’re happy to be in the final and we’ll wait to see who we face.”

The Italians will be on the Red Bull Beach Arena at 1pm for the gold medal match – a game you can watch live on BeachStream.

The Red Bull Beach Arena was full to see the Italians reach the finalThe Red Bull Beach Arena was full to see the Italians reach the final

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