Itapema, Brazil, May 16, 2019 – Anders Mol’s and Christian Sørum’s fortunes on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour started to change exactly one year ago, when the Norwegians won their first international medal together, a silver at the Itapema Open.
Since then, they have collected significant pieces of hardware, including golds at last year’s Gstaad and Vienna Majors, the World Tour Finals and the European Championships, and became one of the top teams on the planet, but the Brazilian coastal city continues to have a special place in their hearts.
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Back in Itapema for the four-star event held at the Meia Praia, the Beach Volley Vikings commented on their relationship with the city.
“It’s really great to be back here,” Mol remarked. “We love Itapema and we also love the Brazilian fans here, they’re really special. It’s always fun to play in Brazil because they love the sport and that gives us a lot of energy on the court. We are just enjoying it, but, of course, we want to take gold this time.”
The good energy seems to have helped as Mol and Sørum had a reasonably smooth first day in the main draw, earning straight-set victories over France’s Edouard Rowlandson/Olivier Barthelemy 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) and USA’s Tri Bourne/Trevor Crabb 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) to claim the top spot in Pool A and advance directly to the Round of 16.
Brunner and Priddy finding their form
Brunner spikes during the victory over Varenhorst and Van de Velde
Americans Reid Priddy and Theo Brunner, who first got together in January, showed more signs of progress as they won Pool G with a pair of victories against European teams. The veterans, who won a silver medal at the three-star tournament in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, are guaranteed a place in the Round of 16.
Priddy and Brunner first needed three sets 2-1 (29-27, 14-21, 15-11) to prevail over the 2017 World Championships silver medallists Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria. Later, they took down the Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde in two 2-0 (21-16, 21-19).
“I think we did good,” Brunner said. “Both games could have gone either way, but we just tried to stay under control and play our game. We’re still a new team and we’re trying to get better. We know we can play with anyone, but we can also play very poorly, so to see that we’re being able to play well consistently is great.”
Other than the Norwegians and the Americans, the following teams also won their pools: Poland’s Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek and Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak, Austria’s Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller, the Netherlands’ Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves/Bruno Schmidt and USA's Chase Budinger/Casey Patterson. These teams are all guaranteed a place in the Round of 16.
Eight other duos finished second in their pools and secured a spot in the Round of 24 – USA’s Bourne/Crabb, Brazil’s Guto Carvalhaes/Saymon Barbosa and Alison Cerutti/Alvaro Filho, Canada’s Sam Pedlow/Sam Schachter, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, Mexico’s Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros, the Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst/Steven van de Velde and Switzerland's Marco Krattiger/Nico Beeler.
The remaining 16 teams have lost their Itapema openers and will complete pool play with a win-or-go-home match on Friday morning. The winners will move on to the Round of 24, which will be played in the early afternoon.