World Championships Final Day
By Tom Feuer
In a nail biter of a finale, Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia won in three sets over home country favorites, Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler in Sunday’s FIVB World Championship of Beach Volleyball in Hamburg, Germany, 19-21, 21-17, 15-11. Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, played for the bronze medal earlier in the day, and in their eighth match of the tournament pushed number one seeds Anders Mol and Christian Sorum before losing 21-19, 15-21, 10-15.
“We were making some good reads on Christian (Sorum). We had a few blocks on him. He wasn’t siding out very well,” Crabb said afterwards. “That was the game plan going into the match to serve him. We also sided out very well in that first set ourselves. Then he kind of regrouped and sided out better in the second set and that was the difference right there.”
For Bourne and Crabb their fourth-place finish could constitute a victory of sorts. They earned 1120 Olympic qualifying points, 160 more than the next best USA finishers, Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena who ended up fifth.
Bourne and Crabb’s three losses in this tournament all came against the three medalists. They were beaten by Wickler and Thole in pool play, Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy in the semifinals and then the Volley Vikings in the bronze medal match.
“They all have very large dominant blockers at the net and we are more of a midsize split blocking team,” Bourne said. “It kind of depends on if one of those big guys is going to take over and be lights out that match, because that puts a lot of pressure on us to be perfect. We take a lot of pride in playing the giants. We like to slay the giants.”
The Norwegians had come into the tournaments as favorites. Over the last year, Mol and Sorum had seven wins, a second, and three fifths in 11 tournaments. Additionally, they won the European Championship last summer. They were unpressed in the Worlds until they ran into the German buzzsaw last night.
In the first game against Crabb and Bourne they looked like they still had a hangover from Saturday, but then they regrouped and showed the form that led to their No. 1 world ranking. They are the second Norwegian team to win a bronze medal at the Worlds as Vegard Hoidalen and Jorre Kjemperud finished third in Klagenfurt in 2001. In that match they also beat a USA team, the unlikely duo of Rob Heidger and Chip McCaw.
In the gold-medal match, Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy showed a lot of poise, withstanding the partisan crowd and the terrific play from the Germans. The Russians lost the first set 21-19, came back in the second set, 21-17. Then in the third, with the score tied at eight, Stoyanovskiy took over with an ace serve, another tough serve that led to a point and then pressured a hit that went out by Wickler. The party was over at that point as the Russians held that advantage to the finish.
Stoyanovskiy, 22 (his birthday is September 26), became the youngest player to win a gold medal at the Worlds. This was the first gold medal the Russians have ever won in World Championship competition. Krasilnikov won a bronze in this event two years ago playing with Nikita Liamin. In 2007 Dmitri Barsouk and Igor Kolodinsky won the silver losing to the USA’s Todd Rogers and Dalhausser.
Now that the competition is over, most of the players will head to the Beach Volleyball Majors five star event in Gstaad, Switzerland which begins July 8 with Country Quota qualifying. Then there is no rest for the weary as the top players will head to Espinho, Portugal the following week for a four star and then to Tokyo for a four star in the city that will be hosting the Olympic Games next summer. The next Worlds will be in Rome, Italy two years from now.
A few awards from Hamburg:
The German fans. Never has a beach volleyball venue been this loud and raucous and participatory before. It was so loud that Dalhausser said after his match against the Germans on center court that he could not hear partner Nick Lucena’s line/angle calls.
The fans did support all of the players, not just the Germans, but their enthusiasm carried Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler a long way.
Viacheslav Krasilnikov, Russia and Melissa Humana Paredes, Canada
Adrian “Sky Ball” Carambula (who else), Italy and Laura Ludwig, Germany
Anders Mol, Norway and Alison Cerutti, Brazil
George Wanderely, Brazil and Sarah Sponcil, USA