2015-10-01 18:00:00 CEST
The USA, Germany and two teams from Brazil were the first to climb out of the pools in the most momentous tournament of the FIVB World Tour season on Thursday.
Americans and Brazilians clinch the top of the two men’s pools to advance straight to the Semifinals. It was a battle of giants at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals on October 1, as the tournament’s tallest player, 6’11” Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands, and 6’9” Phil Dalhausser of the USA had a block party on Center Court.
Dalhausser showed no trace of the abdominal muscle injury that sidelined him earlier in the season. The US legend and his partner Nick Lucena, 10th-seed wild cards who had beaten World Champions from Brazil less than 24 hours previously, made short work of the first set, 21-9. After the Dutchmen responded with a 22-20 takedown, the third set was a sideout showdown until the Americans took advantage of two balls hit over the line to slam home the win, 15-12.
By clinching Pool B, the Americans avoid the elimination rounds of the Quarter Finals and are the first team guaranteed a berth in the Semis, boosting them to favorite status. But in a tournament that hosts only the world’s best, Dalhausser isn’t about to get over-confident.
“I feel that these guys will beat us on some days and we’ll beat them on some days – it’s really just who plays the better match,” said the 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, acknowledging the support of the fans, who include not only contingents for the USA and Brazil but also about 100 Austrian “ambassadors” who flew over to cheer Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst.
Only three hours later, the winner of men’s Pool A was also determined, as Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg, who had beaten former FIVB World Champions from The Netherlands earlier in the day, emerged victorious in an all-out war against the top-seeded Americans Casey Patterson and Jake Gibb. Like Dalhausser and Lucena, Evandro and Pedro will advance directly to the Semifinals.
Women’s teams seizing the opportunity to advance at least to the Quarterfinals, if not further, with triumphs on Thursday included Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil, as well as Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who handed April Ross and Lauren Fendrick of the USA their first defeat of the tournament.
The Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals will accelerate to the next level on Friday, when Pool play concludes and the women dive into Quarterfinals, where every match is an elimination. The FIVB World Champion men and women from Brazil will launch back into action after a day off, looking for redemption after early losses to the USA.
RESULTS, SWATCH BEACH VOLLEYBALL FIVB WORLD TOUR FINALS: THURSDAY, OCT. 1
Women, Pool A
Ludwig/Walkenhorst (Germany) win vs. Fendrick/Ross (USA): 21-14, 21-18
Baquerizo/Liliana (Spain) win vs. Broder/Valjas (Canada): 17-21, 21-17, 15-12
Women, Pool B
Day/Kessy (USA) win vs. Laboureur/Sude (Germany): 13-21, 21-19, 15-13
Meppelink/Van Iersel (Netherlands) win vs. Pavan/Bansley (Canada): 21-15, 21-17
Larissa/Talita (Brazil) win vs. Laboureur/Sude (Germany): 21-16, 21-19
Men, Pool A
Lupo/Nicolai (Italy) win vs. Gavira/Pablo Herrera (Spain): 24-22, 21-17
Evandro/Pedro Solberg (Brazil) win vs. Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Netherlands): 19-21, 21-15, 16-14
Brouwer/Meeuwsen (Netherlands) win vs. Lupo/Nicolai (Italy): 21-19, 21-16
Evandro/Pedro Solberg (Brazil) win vs. Gibb/Patterson (USA): 21-19, 19-21, 15-10
Men, Pool B
Dalhausser/Lucena (USA) win vs. Nummerdor/Varenhorst (Netherlands): 21-9, 20-22, 15-12
Saxton/Schalk (Canada) win vs. Doppler/Horst (Austria): 21-16, 22-20