Impressive field of 10 women’s and 10 men’s pairs to contest the highest honours on the World Tour
The sixth edition of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals is set to get underway in Italy on Wednesday, with 10 pairs per gender contesting the medals of the special season finale. The five-day US$ 800,000 prize money event will be held at the picturesque Molo Sanita at the seaport of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia. It is the second time the World Tour Finals are held in the southern European country, after the previous edition in 2019 took place in Rome.
Previously, the city of Cagliari welcomed the Italy Open on the World Tour in 2000 and 2001 and FIVB Challenger tournaments in 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006, as well as the CEV European Championship in 2014.
In each gender, the 10 participating teams in the World Tour Finals will be split into two single round-robin pools of five. The pool stage of the tournament will be played from Wednesday through Friday. The pool winners will advance straight to Saturday’s semifinals, while each of the two pool runners-up will have to go against the third-placed team of the other pool in the quarterfinal games, also on Saturday. Sunday’s schedule includes the matches for the gold and for the bronze medals.
The 10 duos taking part in the women’s tournament come from eight different countries, with United States and Switzerland represented by two teams each. Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman and the FIVB World Ranking number two duo, Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes, are the two American pairs. 2021 European champions Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli are joined by Olympic bronze medalists Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich on Switzerland’s participation card.
All of the previous five women’s editions of the World Tour Finals were won by teams from Germany or Brazil. This year, these two countries will be represented by Karla Borger and Julia Sude and current World Ranking leaders and medalists of the last three editions of the World Tour Finals Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa, respectively.
The women’s line-up also includes reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada and the current number three team in the World Ranking, Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina of Russia. Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelink, who won EuroBeachVolley 2014 gold in Cagliari, will return to Sardinia along with her current partner Sanne Keizer.
Three-time Olympian Marta Menegatti will represent the host country with a new partner, 18-year-old rookie Valentina Gottardi.
The men’s line-up is also highlighted by the reigning Olympic champions from Tokyo 2020, Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway, who also claimed the continental title for the third time in a row this year. The Norwegians will try to win their second World Tour Finals gold, after topping the podium three years ago in Hamburg. Olympic bronze medalists and World Ranking number ones Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar will also compete in Cagliari. So will the number twos, Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner of Czechia.
For 45-year-old four-time Olympian Jake Gibb, the World Tour Finals will be the last tournament of his esteemed career as a professional athlete. He will represent the United States together with partner Taylor Crabb. Russia will be represented by Ilya Leshukov and three-time Olympian Konstantin Semenov. 36-year-old three-time Olympian Martins Plavins and his Latvian teammate Edgars Tocs, Tokyo 2020 semifinalists, will play in Cagliari as one of the wild cards.
The other wild card went to Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi, representatives of the host country. Another Italian pair, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, three-time Olympians and Rio 2016 silver medalists, who won the first of three EuroBeachVolley titles seven years ago in Cagliari, will also enjoy the support of the home crowd at Molo Sanita. The Netherlands is the other country to send two teams to Cagliari, Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde and 2013 world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.