Thole & Wickler up against Russian world champions

Rome, Italy, September 7, 2019 - It's a repeat of the gold medal match two months ago at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships as Germany’s Julius Thole/Clemens Wickler meet Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Oleg Stoyanovskiy here Sunday in the finals of the $600,000 FIVB World Tour Finals.

The two teams won a pairs of matches each Saturday on the Foro Italico courts with world champions and the third-seeded Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy posting a 2-1 (18-21, 21-18, 15-9) win in 52 minutes over second-seeded Anders Mol and Christian Sorum to snap the Norwegians' 24-match FIVB winning streak.

It was the fourth FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams this season as Mol and Sorum had won the previous two matches in semifinal clashes in the Czech Republic and Poland. Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy had defeated the Norwegians in a quarterfinal meeting in January in The Hague.

The fifth-seeded Thole and Wickler gained a spot in their third FIVB World Tour finale by posting a 2-0 (26-24, 21-17) win in 53 minutes over 17th-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb of the United States. Last month in Moscow, the Americans defeated Thole and Wickler in pool play.

The 22-year-old Stoyanovskiy said: "It was one of our best games ever. We had patience today to serve, not to risk. We tried to put the pressure on them with the float serve and just to wait for their mistake and keep our side out."

When asked about his blocking and his partner's play, Stoyanovskiy said "I practiced (blocking) a lot and that’s my secret. He (Krasilnikov) had an incredible side out today. He jumped really high and his cut shot was beautiful."

As for the World Championship rematch, Stoyanovskiy said: "We are meeting them for the fourth time I think and it will be a tough game and I’m sure we’ll show beautiful volleyball in this beautiful arena in Rome and let’s see what happens tomorrow. It’s the last tournament of the season for us and it’s a nice ending to play in the final to take the medal and maybe the gold."

Sunday’s title match at 9:35 p.m. (local time) will be the fourth meeting between the Germans and Russians with Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy winning the previous three matches highlighted by a 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 15-11) World Championship gold medal victory in 72 minutes on July 7 in Hamburg, Germany.

“Against Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy, we lost all our finals against them,” said Wickler. “I think it’s now our time to beat them. They are the strongest team now after their win over the Norwegians. We have to play to our limit to get them but it’s the last game of the season for us, so we have to get all in and hope it works in the end.”

As for their semifinal win, the 24-year-old Wickler said: “The Americans played very well in the first set. In the second set our tactics did very well. Jake started to work his jump serve and it was strong, and they got back to 17. Against the Americans, you never can stop, you have to continue until the last point is done."

The 22-year-old Thole said: "We are really ambitious; we have a great team and we are getting a lot of confidence. I can’t describe it. It’s a huge thing for us. Reaching this at the end of the season, everybody is tired, and it’s a lot about fighting and doing it in your head. We were able to do it in the semifinal at the end, it’s incredible."

To reach the semifinals, both teams had a win in mid-afternoon matches Saturday with Thole and Wickler posting a 2-0 (21-12, 21-12) quarterfinal victory in 32 minutes over 13th-seeded Ondrej Perusic/David Schweiner of the Czech Republic while Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy ousted 25th-seeded Christiaan Varenhorst/Steven van de Velde of the Netherlands 2-1 (19-21, 21-19, 15-11) in 50 minutes.


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