Czechia’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner booked the first spot in the men’s semifinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Cagliari, after moving swiftly through Pool A undefeated.
Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum topped the final standings in Pool B to join the Czechs into the last four of the tournament.
To determine the other two semifinalists, Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen will go against Italy’s Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, and Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde, also of the Netherlands, will take on Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan in the two quarterfinal fixtures on Saturday.
Varenhorst and Van de Velde made sure they finish their pool campaign on a high note with a convincing 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) shutout of Latvian wild cards Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs, but they had to wait for the outcome of the next game to know their place in the final pool standings.
Perusic and Schweiner left no doubts over the great shape they are in and mastered a 2-0 (21-16, 21-19) clean slate over home favourites Nicolai and Lupo to top the table on a 4-0 win-loss record, followed by the Dutch team on 3-1 and the Italians on 2-2.
“It’s always very tough to play against the Italians. They are a very good team and we know each other very well. We expected a tight match and they gave it us,” Schweiner told Volleyball World. “I am so happy that we proved we can still perform and compete at this high level.”
“We did not expect to take four wins in the pool, because all teams here are really good, the top teams of this season. It’s really amazing!”
Perusic added. “We didn’t have a specific goal; we only wanted to perform at our best. I am so glad that so far we have been able to do it and I hope we’re going to keep it up.”
Brouwer and Meeuwsen had a fabulous day in Sardinia. They started it off with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) victory Cherif and Ahmed and followed that up with another straight-setter, 2-0 (21-18, 23-21), over Italy’s Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi to practically secure the second place in the final Pool B standings and a spot in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Then it was up to the Qataris and the Norwegians to determine who wins the pool to go straight to the semis and who finishes third to go to the quarterfinals.
The titanic battle between the current FIVB World Ranking leaders and the reigning Olympic champions went to three sets with an extended tie-breaker, finished by Anders Mol with an ace to fix the 2-1 (21-17, 17-21, 16-14) victory.
Mol and Sorum topped the standings on a 3-1 win-loss record and a better point ratio than Brouwer and Meeuwsen. Cherif and Ahmed followed on 2-2.
“For sure, it wasn’t an easy pool to win. There are some tough teams in the world and every match is a battle,” said Mol.
“This was a really big win against Qatar. These guys just got the bronze at the Olympic Games. We also had a tough battle against the Dutch guys yesterday, so we are really happy to advance to the semifinals.”
“It was a great game! Qatar played really well. I think it was our best game in the tournament so far,” added Sorum.
“I’m super happy that we managed to win because it was a tough game and if we had lost this one, it would have been tough mentally. It’s amazing that we are in the semifinals now. We will be ready for whoever our next opponents are.”