France’s Canet and Rotar take men’s bronze, also with support from the programme
Two of the teams that medalled at last week’s FIVB U21 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Thailand are among the beneficiaries of the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment programme. This includes new world champions Desy Poiesz and Brecht Piersma of the Netherlands on the women's side, and men’s bronze medallists Arthur Canet and Teo Rotar of France.
Belgium’s Joppe Van Langendonck and Kyan Vercauteren claimed the men’s title after beating Austria’s Timo Hammarberg and Tim Berger in the final, while Switzerland's Leona Kernen and Annique Niederhauser and Poland’s Malgorzata Ciezkowska and Urszula Lunio completed the all-European sweep of the podiums with the women’s silver and bronze, respectively.
Poiesz and Piersma are representatives of Dutch beach volleyball, which has so far been allocated a total of CHF 144,000 of coach support for both genders combined. The 20-year-olds went through the tournament in Roi Et winning straight-set victories in six of the seven matches played. Their only setback occurred in the overtime of the tie-breaker of a Pool C match against Kernen and Niederhauser, the same team they met again in Sunday’s gold medal game (pictured in the main photo) and downed by an emphatic 2-0 (21-14, 21-16). The Dutch hopefuls were even more emphatic in the semifinals earlier in the day, when they mastered a 2-0 (21-16, 21-7) sweep of their encounter with Ciezkowska and Lunio. It was Poiesz and Piersma’s second international podium as a pair. Last year they took bronze at the CEV U20 European Championship.
“Now that I know that it’s been a long time since the Netherlands has won gold at this tournament, I feel proud of our achievements here,” Poiesz told the FIVB. “We are not at the same level as our Dutch predecessors, but we are working on it. And this is the first step towards that, to have a more beautiful future.”
The women’s podium at the 2023 U21 World Championships in Roi Et
18-year-old Kernen and 20-year-old Niederhauser started their campaign in Roi Et with a three-set loss, but bounced back with a six-game winning streak, crowned by a 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 15-9) comeback victory over China’s Yan Xu and Zhou Mingli in the semifinals. The pair’s incredible performances saw them reach the title showdown with the Dutch and secure their second international medal after the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures silver in Baden earlier this year.
18-year-old Ciezkowska and 19-year-old Lunio brought the bronze back home to Poland after an injury during the tie-breaker prompted their Chinese opponents to withdraw from the third-place match. It was their second big podium as a duo, after winning U20 European Championship gold in August.
Teo Rotar in action
18-year-old Canet and 19-year-old Rotar are an important part of France’s effort to raise the level of its beach volleyball national teams with coach support from Volleyball Empowerment, so far amounting to a total of CHF 795,000, ahead of hosting next year’s Olympic Games. Having already triumphed as U19 world champions in 2021 and U20 European champions in 2023, in addition to collecting three more medals from major age-group championships, Canet and Rotar confidently reached the U21 semifinals in Thailand, dropping only a set in the five matches along the way. They bounced back from a 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-11) semifinal upset at the hands of Van Langendonck and Vercauteren with a 2-1 (21-16, 19-21, 15-12) victory over Brazil’s Pedro Sousa and Henrique Camboim in the third-place game to snatch the bronze.
The young Belgians made an impressive run of seven consecutive wins towards their first international medal. Van Langendonck and Vercauteren finished the tournament undefeated, crowning their effort with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-13) comeback victory over Hammarberg and Berger in the final to claim the gold.
The 19-year-old Austrians, on the other hand, had already collected four medals from various age-group European Championships, including 2022 U20 gold, and now added their first piece of hardware at the world level to their collection. On the way to the final in Thailand, Hammarberg and Berger won six games in a row culminating in a 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) semifinal victory over Pedro and Henrique.
The men’s podium at the 2023 U21 World Championships in Roi Et
A total of 91 teams representing 46 countries from all five Continental Confederations took part in the U21 World Championships.