Paolo Nicolai (right) of Italy dances with "Spike", the official mascot of the Dela Beach Open
The Hague, The Netherlands, June 17, 2017 - With three-straight elimination bracket wins at the US$150,000 Dela Beach Open at Sportcampus Zuiderpark, Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai will have an opportunity to avenge their only setback in the FIVB World Tour event at the newly-constructed Sportcampus Zuiderpark.
Seeded 11th in the 32-team men’s Main Draw, have defeated pairs from Belgium, Latvia and Austria to advance to the Dela Beach Open here Saturday where the Italians will challenge sixth-seeded Adriana Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain for a spot in Sunday’s gold medal finale.
The two teams have met nine times on the FIVB World Tour with Gavira and Herrera narrowing Lupo and Nicolai’s 5-4 edge in the series by posting a 2-0 (21-19, 21-17) pool win Thursday in 36 minutes over the Italians in the first match between the two teams this season.
Saturday’s match will also mark the third semi-final match between the two teams on the FIVB World Tour with the Spaniards topping Lupo and Nicolai in 2013 at Long Beach in the United States with the Italians besting Gavira and Herrera last season in Fuzhou, China. Both matches were won in three sets with a 15-13 score in the tie-breaker.
The two teams are the more “experienced” pairs on the international circuit with the Dela Beach Open FIVB World Tour stop No. 87 for Gavira and Herrera with Saturday’s match marking semi-final No. 21. Lupo and Nicolai are competing in their 63rd FIVB event with 19 semi-final appearances to their credit.
Lupo and Nicolai advanced to the semi-finals with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) win in 33 minutes over 11th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst while Gavira and Herrera ousted ninth-seeded Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter of Canada with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-19) quarter-final win in 32-minutes.
The Italians are also seeking to improve their ranking as the pair finished 17th two weeks ago in Moscow after placing fifth, second and third in their previous three FIVB World Tour events this season in the United States, China and Brazil. Gavira and Herrera will be playing in their first “final four” since last July’s FIVB stop in Gstaad, Switzerland.
“Moscow was a different tournament,” said the 28-year old Nicolai. “We played not so bad, but lacked the focus on every point. We are semifinal and now we will try to win the gold. Our main goal this season is to be ready for the upcoming world championships. We want to try to do the same as we did in the Olympics where we played our best Beach Volleyball. So, we have to stay focused in every game we play.”