Players in action during a Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge match at the Kite Beach in Dubai.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
Swiss pair Adrian Heidrich and Leo Dillier, the lowest seeded team, advanced to the next round after winning their pool match in main draw action of the men’s Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Dubai.
18 of the 24 participating pairs made their way to the knockout stage of the tournament.
The second event of Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge, hosted by Dubai for the first time, kicked off on Thursday with the qualifiers at the Kite Beach.
The International Volleyball Federation is organizing the tournament with the support of the Dubai Sports Council and in collaboration with the Emirates Volleyball Association.
Swiss qualifiers Heidrich and Dillier, playing in the main draw as seed 22, had to persevere through two three-setters to emerge on top of the Pool C standings.
In their pool semi-final match, they lost the first set to third-seeded Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat deep into overtime, but then came back to celebrate a 2-1 (23-25, 21-17, 15-12) upset of the French opponents.
The pool final offered an all-Swiss affair, in which Heidrich and Dillier snatched a 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-11) victory over compatriots Quentin Metral and Yves Haussener as both duos advanced to the playoff stage.
Also progressing in the tournament were Krou and Gauthier-Rat, who also came back from a set down in the third place match, but grabbed a 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 15-8) win over USA’s Logan Webber and Evan Cory.
There were plenty of upsets in Pool D too, with the two lowest seeded teams coming in from Thursday’s qualifiers and making it to the first place match.
16th-seeded Zachery Schubert and Thomas Hodges of Australia delivered a 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) sweep of ninth-seeded Americans Chase Budinger and Troy Field, and 21st-seeded Brazilians Evandro Oliveira and Vinicius Freitas were even more emphatic against the other US pair in the pool, Dubai 1 winners and pool leaders Andrew Benesh and Miles Partain, to beat them by 2-0 (21-14, 21-13).
The Aussies then defeated the Brazilians by a narrow 2-1 (22-20, 20-22, 15-13) to top the pool standings, while in an all-American third-place match, Benesh and Partain knocked out Budinger and Field by 2-1 (19-21, 21-17, 17-15).
Another qualifier duo from the US, however, dropped no sets on the way to the first place in Pool F. 19th-seeded Taylor Crabb and Paul Lotman hammered out a 2-0 (21-13, 21-9) blowout of UAE’s Amer Al Marzooqi and Abduljalil Al Blooshi and then cruised on to a 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win over 18th-seeded Joao Pedrosa and Hugo Campos of Portugal, who had upset seventh-seeded Germans Robin Sowa and Lukas Pfretzschner by 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).
The Germans stayed in the tournament as the third-placed team after a 2-0 (21-13, 21-11) clean slate against Amer and Abduljalil.
Other than losing a set in their first Pool A match, top seeds David Ahman and Jonatan Hellvig of Sweden allowed no surprises on the first day of main draw action.
The 20-year-old Ahman and 21-year-old Hellvig, reigning European champions, started off with a 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-7) victory over German qualifiers Paul Henning and Sven Winter and followed up with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) success over Australia’s Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis to win the pool.
Second-seeded Marco Viscovich and Alex Ranghieri also lived up to the expectations and topped the standings in Pool B.
After an extended first set, the Italians mastered a 2-0 (28-26, 21-14) shutout of Spain’s Javier Huerta and Alejandro Huerta and then battled back from a set behind in the pool final against Argentina’s Tomas Capogrosso and Nicolas Capogrosso to win by 2-1 (16-21, 23-21, 15-12). The Huertas took third after a tough 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-13) victory over Turkiye’s Hasan Huseyin Mermer and Safa Urlu.
Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and Arthur Mariano won the Pool E race with the other three Italian teams in the tournament.
They claimed a 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) victory over Jakob Windisch and Gianluca Dal Corso in their first match and then emerged victorious from the three-set duel with Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi to finish in first place after a 2-1 (19-21, 21-18, 15-8) comeback. Davide Benzi and Carlo Bonifazi also needed three sets in the third place game against compatriots Windisch and Dal Corso to celebrate with a 2-1 (21-14, 17-21, 15-13) win.
Meanwhile, two Chinese, two US and two European pairs emerged on top of the six pools in the women’s main draw.
18 of the 24 teams’ participating in the tournament advanced to playoffs.
Bronze medallists of the first Dubai tournament, Americans Katie Horton and Julia Scoles battled hard to claim two victories.
Sixth-seeded Horton and Scoles, who had to start the competition from Thursday’s qualifiers, started their Pool F campaign with a hard-fought victory over another qualifying team, Miroslava Dunarova and Daniela Resova.
The Americans outpaced the Czechs by 2-1 (22-20, 14-21, 15-11). The first place match in the pool against Germany’s Anna-Lena Grune and Sarah Schulz followed a similar plot as Horton and Scoles took a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) win. Dunarova and Resova also advanced to the playoffs by taking the third place in the pool after a 2-0 (21-17, 21-12) shutout of Japan’s Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami.