Espinho, Portugal, July 19, 2019 – Eight teams from seven different countries posted two victories apiece in Friday’s pool stage of the men’s main draw at the four-star Espinho stop on the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour to top their pools and progress straight to the second elimination round. Another 16 pairs managed to achieve one win each to remain in the competition as either pool runners-up or third-placed and play in the first leg of Saturday’s knockouts.
In a pool, crowded with American legends in the company of an up-and-coming Russian pair, 20th-seeded Theodore Brunner & William Reid Priddy of USA posted two victories and became the first team to book a direct ticket to the round of 16. This is in fact the 29th case in the history of the World Tour (for both genders) when three teams from the same country compete in the same pool. In eight of those occurrences the country is the United States.
The first leg in Pool D provided for a couple of upsets. 23-year-old Russians Maxim Sivolap & Artem Yarzutkin, seeded 29th in the main draw, who emerged from Thursday’s qualifications, hammered out a 2-0 (21-15, 22-20) victory over the fourth-seeded pair of three-time Olympian and 2008 gold medallist Philip Dalhausser and his 2016 Rio partner Nicholas Lucena. Another three-time Olympian, 43-year-old Jacob Gibb, and his 27-year-old current partner Taylor Crabb, seeded 13th were blown away by Brunner & Priddy – 2-0 (21-17, 21-17). In the pool final, 34-year-old Brunner and 41-year-old Priddy, himself a legendary American indoor player, came back from a set down against the Russians to claim a 2-1 (19-21, 21-14, 15-6) win and the first place in the standings.
Artem Yarzutkin spikes one past Phil Dalhausser’s block
“I thought we played well. We just sort of stayed in the moment and it was good to win these two matches,” Priddy commented after the match. “Every team at this event is really good, so we have to play well point by point...”
“I would say that the Vegas odds were probably not with us, but we know we could play with anyone. We were just trying to build a consistent game and we knew we could win the pool. We just played our game and we are really happy with the way we carried ourselves,” Brunner added. “Now we get a nice little break. We’ll have one round off, so we’ll get to watch the team that plays into us. The rest is in god’s hands, but we have to be ready.”
Spain’s Herrera & Gavira coping with the morning fog in Espinho
Legendary Spaniards Pablo Herrera Allepuz & Adrian Gavira Collado managed to break the seeding in Pool F. Playing under #11, Herrera & Gavira snatched a hard-fought 2-0 (21-19, 25-23) victory over sixth-seeded Cherif Younousse & Ahmed Tijan of Qatar in the pool’s winners’ game. Before that, the Spanish pair hammered out a 2-0 (21-9, 21-14) shutout of Australia’s Cole Durant & Damien Schumann.
The winners of the remaining pools came out pretty much as expected. Seeds one through three, Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior & Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, Konstantin Semenov & Ilya Leshukov of Russia and Paolo Nicolai & Daniele Lupo of Italy, respectively, won their pools without dropping a set.
Fifth-seeded Germans Julius Thole & Clemens Wickler needed a tie-break to get past Latvia’s Martins Plavins & Edgars Tocs for the first place in Pool E – 2-1 (21-18, 14-21, 15-13). A phenomenal all-Brazilian final occurred in Pool G. After 54 minutes of nip-and-tuck beach volleyball, seventh-seeded Andre Loyola Stein & George Souto Maior Wanderley celebrated with a 2-1 (24-22, 17-21, 15-13) victory over 10th-seeded Alison Cerutti & Alvaro Morais Filho. In Pool H, ninth-seeded Ondrej Perusic & David Schweiner of Czechia claimed the top spot after two straight-set wins.
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