The Hague, The Netherlands, June 23, 2015 - With a berth for a country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at stake, the men’s competition at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships starts Friday when two-time Dutch Olympian Reinder Nummerdor and towering Christiaan Varenhorst open play on the sand at The Hofvijver stadium court in front of The Netherlands' centre of government.
As the No. 1 seeded team in the 48-team men’s competition, Nummerdor and Varenhorst are “over-whelming” favorites to win their pool (A) featuring teams from Cuba, El Salvador and Poland to advance to the elimination rounds undefeated when the knockout competition begins July 1 for the US$1-million FIVB World Championships.
The 2015 FIVB World Championships will be the most unique event of its kind in the history of the sport. In addition to the winning teams securing Rio Olympic berths for their country, the event will feature men’s and women’s competition at four sites in The Netherlands for pool play and the first round of elimination.
For the first-time, the Beach Volleyball world championships will have at least four teams from all five FIVB confederations represented. The 2015 event features competitors from 40 countries with competition being held in The Netherlands - The Hague, Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam. The 2015 FIVB World Championships conclude July 4 and 5 with the women’s and men’s medal matches, respectively.
Nummerdor and Varenhorst (211 cm, 6'11") will be challenged by 25th-seeded Carlos Escobar and David Vargas of El Salvador in the second of two opening matches Friday on The Hofvijver stadium court where the picture-perfect background is highlighted by The Hague skyline and the country’s Parliament building.
After the early evening opening ceremonies Friday for the 10th Beach Volleyball world championships, reigning European champions and women’s top-seed Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel from The Netherlands play 25th-seeded Tatyana Mashkova and Irina Tsimbalova of Kazakhstan in the first match of the 2015 event.
Here’s a preview of the men’s competition as the seeding’s do not reflected the current FIVB World Tour rankings since the placement of teams in pools was determined at the end of March prior to the 2015 season-opening event in April at Fuzhou, China followed by men’s stops in Switzerland, Russia, Croatia, Norway and the United States.
POOL A - The Hague
Nummerdor and Varenhorst earned the top-seed in the men’s competition due to being the top team on The Netherlands’ entry list, Despite being one of the least experienced teams in the competition in terms of international events together (seven FIVB World Tour events together).
Nummerdor and Varenhorst netted a pair of gold medals at the end of last season in Brazil (Sáo Paulo) and South Africa (Mangaung). The Dutch are currently the fourth-ranked team on the 2015 FIVB World Tour as Nummerdor and Varenhorst have started the season with ninth-, fourth-, fifth- and second-place finishes.
The Dutch’s chief opponent in Pool A will be Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz. Both Polish players will turn 26 before the world championships and have been regulars on the international circuit for the past six seasons with 67 FIVB World Tour starts. However, Kadziola has been slowed by injuries this season with Szalankiewicz playing with Michal Bryl.
Kadziola and Szalankiewicz started playing in FIVB events when they turned 17 in 2006 as the pair captured junior/youth world championships in 2007 (under-19) and 2009 (under-21). The Poles also placed ninth in the 2013 world championships in Stare Jablonki where Kadziola and Szalankiewicz were the only team to defeat eventual champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands in pool play.
Also competing in the pool are two teams from the NORECA confederation Carlos Escobar/David Vargas of El Salvador and Nivaldo Diaz/Sergio Gonzalez of Cuba. Neither team has never competed together on the FIVB World Tour. The Cubans have won four continental events in the past 14 months. Gonzalez, who competed in the 2008 under-19 world championships in The Hague, has won 11 NORECA gold medals the past seven years with four different partners.
POOL B - Amsterdam
Pool B was scheduled to feature American Olympians Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal competing against Isaac Kapa/Christopher McHugh of Australia and Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko of Kazakhstan. But an oblique injury for Dalhausser and knee tendinitis for Rosenthal forced them to withdraw with compatriots Ryan Doherty and John Mayer filling the void for the United States.
Kapa and McHugh, who ended their 2014 campaign by netting a bronze medal at the prestigious Austrian Grand Slam, are currently ranked 24th on the FIVB World Tour and are coming off a fifth-place finish this past week at the United States Grand Slam in St. Petersburg where the Aussies defeated Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain and Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany in pool play.
Doherty and Mayer have played in only three events this season and are ranked higher than Dyachenko and Sidorenko (No. 32 and No. 34, respectively). Doherty and Mayer were ninth in Norway and finished 17th in St. Petersburg. Dyachenko and Sidorenko started 2015 by finishing ninth in the Russian Grand Slam in Moscow, but struggled in the two SWATCH Major Series events in Croatia and Norway by placing 25th in both stops.
The fourth team in the group is Sam O'Dea and Michael Watson of the New Zealand, who have played in two FIVB World Tour events together with a 33rd earlier this season in Fuzhou. Neither Kiwi have competed in the senior world championships, but O’Dea was fifth with Sam Wallace-Boyd in the 2009 under-21 worlds and Watson placed 19th in the 2006 under-19 worlds in Bermuda with Edwin O’Dea.
POOL C - Apeldoorn
Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt were expected to be the top team in the group entering the world championships, but the Brazilians rank behind Austrians Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst. The Austrian pair posted a fourth last week at the United States Grand Slam to secure the fifth spot on the international list.
Doppler and Horst, who have also posted two fifths and a ninth this season, defeated Alison and Bruno in a three-set elimination match last week in St. Petersburg. In the previous three meetings with the Brazilians, Doppler and Horst failed to win a set with the average deficit being 4.5 points.
With a fourth, two ninths and a 17th to their credit this season, Alison and Bruno are tied for 14th on the FIVB World Tour. Alison captured the 2011 world championships in Rome with Emanuel before the pair placed second at the London 2012 Olympic Games where the Brazilian defeated Doppler and Horst in pool play.
The other two pairs in the pool have competed in FIVB World Tour events this season. Jefferson Santos Pereira and Cherif Younousse will be the first men’s or women’s team from Qatar to compete in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. With the 2015 campaign being their first on the FIVB World Tour together, Jefferson and Cherif posted a 41st in Fuzhou and a 25th in Lucerne. Jefferson n and Cherif won an event earlier this season in Ankara, Turkey.
Joshua Court and Damien Schumann of Australia have played in seven FIVB World Tour events together, including a pair of qualifying efforts earlier this season in China and Switzerland. The Aussies’ best world tour placement was a 17th last season in Paraná. Neither Court nor Schumann have ever played in the world championships.
POOL D - Rotterdam
Grzegorz Fijalek Mariusz Prudel, the winners of the FIVB stop in The Hague last season for Poland’s first-ever gold medal on the international circuit, will be tested by Canadians Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter of Canada and Jesus Villafañe/Jackson Henriquez of Venezuela. The Poles have a third and three ninths this season to rank ninth on the FIVB World Tour.
The fifth-ranked team on the international circuit, Binstock and Schachter captured Canada’s first major FIVB World Tour medal since 1997 by placing second at the SWATCH Major Series event in Croatia. Binstock and Schachter, who finished 2014 strong with three-straight “final four” finishes in Brazil (fourth), Argentina (first) and Qatar (second), lost an elimination match earlier this month to Fijalek and Prudel in Moscow.
Usama Eltranisy and Ayman Shoukry of Egypt are also playing in the pool after qualifying for their first world championships. The pair competed in the Russian Grand Slam qualifier earlier this month.
POOL E - Rotterdam
Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen enter the competition as the No. 1-ranked team on the FIVB World Tour. The reigning world champions captured the gold medal at the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event in Croatia after placing second at “Open” stops in China and Switzerland. Meeuwsen’s right knee is always a concern as the problem forced the Dutch pair to forfeit the gold medal match last month in Lucerne.
The 20th-seeded team in the competition, Brouwer and Meeuwsen will be challenged by pairs from Italy and Austria in Pool E. Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy are the top-ranked team in the group and have won four of six FIVB matches from Brouwer and Meeuwsen. The Dutch stopped a four-match losing streak to Lupo and Nicolai by defeating the Italians in Moscow. Alexander Huber and Robin Seidl have also not fared well against the Italians by winning only once in six matches with Lupo and Nicola, but the Austrians have split four matches with the Dutch.
Rodrigo Salinas and Matías Tobar of Chile, who will be competing in their first FIVB World Tour event, have playing in seven South American continental stops the past two seasons and with fourth earlier this year in Uruguay.
POOL F - Apeldoorn
The Chilean cousins of Esteban and Marco Grimalt will prove to be a tough test for Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia in the pool. Experience will be a factor as the Latvians have been competing internationally since 2003 while the Grimalts have only competed in 25 FIVB events the past four-plus seasons with 2014 being the Chileans first full campaign international.
The top team on the FIVB World Tour the past two seasons, Samoilovs and Smedins have competed in only two FIVB events this season with a pair of ninths to rank (37th) behind the Grimalts (30th) and Dmitri Barsouk/Yaroslav Koshkarev of Russia (36th).
Experienced players, Barsouk and Koshkarev are a late entry into the competition and played in the finals Sunday at the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan. Barsouk placed second at the 2007 world championships with Igor Kolodinsky while Koshkarev was ninth in the past two worlds with Konstantin Semenov.
Michiel van Dorsten and Steven van de Velde will be competing for the host country in the group. The pair has four world tour appearances together, including three qualifying efforts earlier this season in Russia, Croatia and Norway. Van de Velde will be playing in his first world championship while van Dorsten was 37th in the 2013 Stare Jablonki worlds with Tim Oude Elferink.
POOL G - Amsterdam
Legendary Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos will be the featured pair in the group where their chief challenger will be Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain. While the Brazilians are the oldest team in the competition, the Spaniards have been playing together the past six-plus seasons with 65 FIVB starts as a team highlighted by a 2015 gold medal finish in Russia, 11 podium placements and 16 “final four” finishes. Gavira and Herrera defeated the legendary Brazilians in the United States, the last FIVB event prior to the world championships.
From 2003 through 2009, Emanuel and Ricardo ranked as one of the world’s top teams. During that period that spanned 88 FIVB events together, the Brazilians set international records for podium placements, “final four” finishes and gold medals. Emanuel and Ricardo resumed their partnership at the end of last season in Sao Paulo where the Brazilians lost to Nummerdor and Varenhorst in the finals. This season, Emanuel and Ricardo have posted three fifths and a ninth in four starts.
Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin, the gold medal team from the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China were also a late entry for Russia. The teenagers posted one of the 2015 biggest upsets by defeating Dalhausser and Rosenthal in an opening match at the Moscow Grand Slam earlier this month.
Edward Seidu Ajanako and Jonathan Scott Sarpong of Ghana, who qualified for the world championships in the African playoffs earlier this year, have competed in two FIVB World Tour events together with a 33rd last season in Doha. Ajanako coached the Ghana Youth Olympic teams last August in Nanjing, China.
POOL H - The Hague
Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany, the third-place finishers at the 2013 world championships, will be challenged by Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada and Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France as all three pairs are ranked among the top 14 on the FIVB World Tour this season. The group also includes Grant Goldschmidt/Leo Williams of South Africa, the continent’s top team.
Erdmann and Matysik have played in 61 FIVB World Tour events together, but have never advanced to a gold medal match. Ranked 14th in the world, The Germans posted a third-place finish at the Moscow Grand Slam where they defeated Brazilians Alison and Bruno for the bronze medal.
The other teams in the group have combined to play in 48 FIVB events. Saxton and Schalk, 12th internationally, placed fifth at the 2013 world championships and posted a third-place finish in Argentina at the end of the 2014 season. Krou and Rowlandson, who are 10th internationally, finished the last year with three podium placements in Xiamen (first), Doha (third) and Mangaung (third). Goldschmidt competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games with Freedom Chiya.
POOL I - The Hague
John Hyden and Tri Bourne of the United States are the top-ranked team in the group and currently ranked 22nd in the world. The Americans’ major challengers will be Switzerland’s Philip Gabathuler and Mirco Gerson, who are 27th internationally. Hyden (42) joins Emanuel (42) and Ricardo (40) as the oldest players in the world championships.
The oldest player to win a FIVB World Tour event (Berlin 2014), Hyden and Bourne have placed 17th in their previous two world tour starts in Norway and the United States after opening the season with ninths in Russia and Croatia. Gabathuler and Gerson, who dropped two matches last season to the Americans, have also started 2015 slowly with a ninth, two 17ths and two 25ths in their first five events this season.
The Americans and Swiss will be competing in a pool with Eric Haddock/ Roberto Rodríguez-Bertrán of Puerto Rico and Oude Elferink/Daan Spijkers of The Netherlands. The Puerto Ricans, who have never played in the world championships, placed 17th and 25th in two world tour events this season.
Oude Elferink and Spijkers, who earned a "wild card" berth for the 2015 FIVB World Championships, will be playing in their first-ever FIVB World Tour event together. Both players have world championship experience with Spijkers placing 17th with Varenhorst while Oude Elferink and van Dorsten were 37th at the 2013 event in Poland.
POOL J - Amsterdam
American and Russian pairs will be the featured teams in the group. Konstantin Semenov and Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia, winners of the Moscow Grand Slam last season, and Theo Brunner and Nick Lucena of the United States, bronze medal finishers last week in St. Petersburg, are the teams to beat in the pool.
Last week’s bronze medal finish lifted Brunner and Lucena to the 17th spot on the FIVB World Tour ranking list as the Americans had finished 25th, 25th and 17th in the previous three international events. Semenov and Krasilnikov have a fifth, three ninths and a 25th to their credit this season to rank 19th internationally.
Also competing in the pool are Alexey Kuleshov/Dmitriy Yakovlev of Kazakhstan and Wessel Keemink/Sven Vismans of The Netherlands. Kuleshov and Yakovlev have competed in 32 FIVB World Tour events together with their best finishes being 17ths in 2013 (Anapa) and 2014 (Doha). The pair placed 37th at the 2013 worlds in Stare Jablonki.
Keemink and Vismans played in their first FIVB World Tour together in May at Lucerne. While Keemink will be making his world tour debut this season, Vismans had not played on the FIVB circuit since 2011 before competing in the Swiss “open”.
POOL K - Apeldoorn
After posting a win at the United States Grand Slam last week in St. Petersburg, Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson will start group play as the top team despite being seeded behind Álvaro Filho and Vitor Felipe of Brazil. While Gibb and Patterson were defeating Nummerdor and Varenhorst for the gold medal last week, the Brazilians were missing the event due to a hamstring injury for Alvaro.
Alvaro, who placed second at the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Poland with Ricardo, and Vitor have three ninths and a 25th to their credit this season. Gibb and Patterson were 17th together at the 2013 worlds in Stare Jablonki. Spaniards Christian Garcia and Francisco Alfredo Marco, who placed second at a Chinese Open event in Xiamen last season, could be a factor if Alvaro’s hamstring is still a problem.
Julian Azaad and Pablo Bianchi of Argentina, the fourth team in the pool, have played in 11 FIVB World Tour events together with their best finishes being ninths last season in Puerto Vallarta and Paraná. While Azaad has never played in a world championship, Bianchi was 37th with Facundo Del Coto in 2013.
POOL L - Rotterdam
Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil, the second-ranked team on the 2015 FIVB World Tour ranking list, will be looking to continue a trend in their first season of playing together. With the world championships being their fifth tournament together, the Brazilians will be looking to medal in their odd number event. After placing second (Russia) in their first event together, Evandro and Pedro topped the podium (Norway) in their third tournament. In even numbered stops, Evandro and Pedro placed fifth (Croatia) in event No. 2 and ninth (United States) in event No. 4.
Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif of Germany and Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico will be the Brazilians main competition. The Mexicans, who are ranked 14th internationally, placed fifth last week in the United States where they lost a three-set quarter-final match to Gibb and Patterson. It was Ontiveros and Virgen’s second-best FIVB finish together with the first being a bronze medal effort at a 2014 “Open” event in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Ranked 18th on the FIVB World Tour, Walkenhorst and Windscheif defeated Evandro and Pedro in pool play last week in the United States. A week earlier, the Brazilians posted an elimination win over Walkenhorst and Windscheif in Norway. The Germans are competing in their second world championships with a 17th in 2013 in Poland.
Choaib Belhaj Salah and Mohamed Naceur of Tunisia, who have never competed together on the FIVB World Tour, are one of the top-ranked teams from the African confederation.
2015 FIVB BEACH VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
June 26-July 5, The Netherlands
MEN'S POOLS BY CITY
POOL A in The Hague
Sergio/Nivaldo - Cuba
Escobar "Tato"/Vargas "Pepe" - El Salvador
Nummerdor/Varenhorst - Netherlands
Kadziola/Szalankiewicz - Poland
POOL H in The Hague
Saxton/Schalk - Canada
Krou/Rowlandson - France
Erdmann/Matysik - Germany
Goldschmidt/Williams - South Africa
POOL I in The Hague
Spijkers/Oude Elferink - Netherlands
Rodríguez - Bertrán/Haddock - Puerto Rico
Gabathuler/Gerson - Switzerland
Hyden/Bourne - USA
POOL B in Amsterdam
Kapa/McHugh - Australia
Sidorenko/Dyachenko - Kazakhstan
Watson/Sam O'Dea - New Zealand
Doherty/Mayer - USA
POOL G in Amsterdam
Emanuel/Ricardo - Brazil
Herrera/Gavira - Spain
Ajanako/Scott - Ghana
Stoyanovskiy/Yarzutkin - Russia
POOL J in Amsterdam
Yakovlev/Kuleshov - Kazakhstan
Keemink/Vismans S. - Netherlands
Semenov/Krasilnikov - Russia
Lucena/Brunner - USA
POOL D in Apeldoorn
Binstock/Schachter - Canada
Usama/Ayman - Egypt
Fijalek/Prudel - Poland
Fañe/Jackson - Venezuela
POOL E in Apeldoorn
Huber A./Seidl Rob. - Austria
Salinas/Tobar - Chile
Nicolai/Lupo - Italy
Brouwer/Meeuwsen - Netherlands
POOL L in Apeldoorn
Pedro/Evandro - Brazil
Walkenhorst/Windscheif - Germany
Virgen/Ontiveros - Mexico
Naceur.Ma/Belhaj.C - Egypt
POOL C in Rotterdam
Court/Schumann - Australia
Doppler/Horst - Austria
Alison/Bruno - Brazil
Jefferson/Cherif - Qatar
POOL F in Rotterdam
Grimalt/M. Grimalt - Chile
Samoilovs/Plavins - Latvia
van Dorsten/van de Velde - Netherlands
Koshkarev/Barsouk - Russia
POOL K in Rotterdam
Bianchi/Azaad - Argentina
Álvaro Filho/Vitor Felipe - Brazil
Marco/García - Spain
Gibb/Patterson - USA