Thailand and Brazil take remaining men’s medals, Russia and Ukraine complete women’s podium
France’s Teo Rotar and Arthur Canet and USA’s Megan Kraft and Delayne Maple celebrated on Saturday with the gold medals and the titles of the 2021 FIVB Beach Volleyball U19 World Championship at Bangtao Beach in Phuket.
Seventh-seeded Rotar and Canet made their way to the top of the men’s podium in a particularly emphatic manner, without dropping even a single set in the seven games played in Thailand. In Saturday’s final, the 17-year-old Frenchmen mastered a 2-0 (21-15, 21-14) victory over home favourites Netitorn Muneekul and Wachirawit Muadpha, after shutting out Russia’s Vladislav Panchenko and Ivan Chuprinov by 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) in the semi-finals earlier in the day. Rotar and Canet’s most difficult match came in Friday’s quarter-finals, when they were pushed to overtime in both sets by Czechia’s Tomas Semerad and Jakub Sepka, but persevered to claim a 2-0 (24-22, 25-23) win. In the round of 16, the French pair managed a 2-0 (21-12, 22-20) victory over Estonia’s Karmo Saviauk and Kaur Erik Kais.
It was the first international podium for Rotar and Canet. They had previously participated in seven World Tour events and two age-category CEV European Championships.
Top-seeded Netitorn and Wachirawit made the home fans proud by reaching the final and claiming the silver medals in the first FIVB tournament of their careers. The Thai duo won their pool on a perfect record of six sets won in six sets played and continued their quest to the last four with straight-set victories over pairs from Spain and Germany. In their semi-final against Brazil’s Nicolas Capretti Schosler and Samuel Giacomo Oselame Bello, Netitorn and Wachirawit lost their first set of the competition, but still celebrated with a 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-9) win to advance to the gold medal match.
The bronze went to 10th-seeded Nicolas and Samuel. It was the second FIVB tournament for the Brazilian duo, after they made their debut at the Itapema 4-star FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event last month. In the bronze medal match in Phuket, the South Americans defeated second-seeded Panchenko and Chuprinov by 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-9). Before losing to Netitorn and Wachirawit in the semis, Nicolas and Samuel cruised through the previous three knockout rounds on the wings of straight-set victories over pairs from USA, the Netherlands and Ukraine.
On the women’s side, Kraft and Maple started their amazing quest from Monday’s qualifications and won eight games in a row to triumph with the crown. The only set they lost in the tournament came in their eighth-final match with third-seeded Dutch pair Desy Poiesz and Brecht Piersma. Seeded 27th in the main draw, Kraft and Maple went on to shut out Italy’s Valentina Gottardi and Aurora Mattavelli by 2-0 (21-10, 22-20) in the quarter-finals, and American compatriots Xolani Hodel and Katherine Reilly by 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) in the semi-finals, before hammering out a 2-0 (21-12, 21-17) blowout of Russia’s Olga Gavrilova and Alina Salmanova in the final.
The 19-year-old Americans have played only one FIVB tournament as a pair before, finishing fourth at the Guam 1-star last year.
26th-seeded Gavrilova and Salmanova took the silver, their first international medal, after previously participating only in last year’s CEV U18 European Championship. They did not lose a single set on the way to the gold medal match. In their semi-final, the Russians grabbed a 2-0 (21-13, 25-23) victory over Ukraine’s Anhelina Khmil and Tetiana Lazarenko. Earlier on Friday, they also won the all-Russian quarterfinal clash with the second-seeded pair of Elizaveta Gubina and defending champion Mariia Bocharova by a narrow 2-0 (22-20, 21-19).
Khmil and Lazarenko, seeded 12th in the main draw, produced a 2-0 (21-15, 21-19) shutout of fifth-seeded Hodel and Reilly in the third place match to claim the bronze. It was already the seventh international podium for the Ukrainian duo, which also claimed the titles at the 2020 CEV U18 European Championship and one of this year’s 1-star events in Sofia. They have also earned three bronze medals on the World Tour and one at this year’s U22 European Championship. In the eighth-finals and the quarter-finals, Khmil and Lazarenko shut out teams from Spain and Denmark, respectively, before losing to Gavrilova and Salmanova in the semis.
Action on the sand courts in Phuket will continue next week with 2021 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championship.