Umag, Croatia, June 25, 2011—The fury of serves, digs, kills and blocks has built to a crescendo following Saturday’s men’s round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals as medal matches at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships Sunday will feature teams from four different countries. In the gold medal match, Norway will meet Poland in and teams from Canada and Switzerland will battle for the bronze medal.
The world’s best young men’s best teams have been competing since Wednesday on the sun-baked Umag sand at the 10th annual double-gender event for players under 19, which will conclude Sunday at the impressive ATP Stadion-Umag, a professional tennis complex nestled around a luscious lagoon on the gentle shores of the peaceful Adriatic Sea.
Surviving the single-elimination phase that began Saturday with the round of 16 and the quarterfinals in the afternoon, followed by the night-time semifinals, the final four teams have reached the medal matches for both genders to be held Sunday evening under the lights on the ATP Stadion-Umag center court.
Admission to the event is free, but donations are being taken at the gate to help the Play of Japan campaign, to assist with the reconstruction efforts in Japan in the areas hit by the devastating earthquake. A total of 73 teams (38 men and 35 women) from 29 countries were in Umag when the 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships started on Wednesday.
Meeting for Umag gold will be Norway’s 12-seeded Runnar Sannarnes/Andreas Takvan facing Poland’s third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak while the Crotian bronze medal match will be between Canada’s eighth-seeded Grant O’Gorman/Aaron Nusbaum and Switzerland’s 10th-seeded Benjamin Lerch/Dennis Lerch.
In Saturday night’s semifinals under the starry Croatian summer night with refreshing Adriatic Sea breezes cooling the evening air but not the action on the Umag center court, determining the medal matches for Sunday evening’s finale, Norway’s Sannarnes/Takvan came from behind to overcome Canada’s Nusbaum/O’Gorman, 15-21, 21-15 and 15-10 in 41 minutes and Poland’s third-seeded Lukasz Kaczmarek/Macjej Kosiak overwhelmed Switzerland’s 10th-seeded Benjamin Lerch/Dennis Lerch, 21-13, 21-19, in just 29 minutes.
After swapping the first two sets, Sannarnes/Takvan took a 5-0 lead to start the tiebreaker set and then Nusbaum/O’Gorman worked their way back in it at 8-8 before the Norwegians blocked their way past the Canadians to the final 15-10 score.
“Canada is a very good team and we are very happy we defeated them,“ said Norway's Sannarnes. „At first, we didn't expect to win. But we played three sets, we gave all we had and won at the and. It is the first time we've played in a semifinals, so we are really happy to be representing Norway and our team in the gold medal match. We would like to go to Stavanger (Norway) next week for the world tour grand slam as the gold medal winners of the FIVB Swatch youth world championships.“
Norway has its first team ever in the final four of the FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships for either gender and it is the ninth Polish team in the final four and fourth in the gold medal match.
Canada has had two previous fourth place finishes for men in this event and none for women while Switzerland
The Norwegians are now 6-0 in this tournament with five of the wins lasting three sets before they prevailed. The Polish team is also 6-0 in Umag with only one match going three sets.
This will be just the second time in the 10-year history of this event that there will be teams from Poland in both the men and women’s gold medal matches. In 2004 in Temoli, Italy, Poland’s Katarzyna Urban/Joanna Wiatr won the gold medal and Poland’s Zbigniew Bartman/Michal Kubiak captured the men’s silver medal.
After their second win of the tournament over the Lerch brothers, Poland’s Kosiak said, “The second set was very strange for us tonight. We have a two-point advantage, but then I made some mistakes. We finally won, so we go to the gold medal match. This is a great day for Poland because our women’s team is in the gold medal finale as well. I can’t believe it, but we’ll be ready to attack tomorrow.”
In the bronze medal match, Nusbaum/O’Gorman have a 5-1 record while the Lerch brothers are 4-2 here in Umag.
In the Norway-Canada semifinal Saturday night, both were experienced teams as both played with the same partners in last year’s FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships in Proto, Portugal with Sannarnes/Takvan being eliminated in the second round of qualifying and Nusbaum/O’Gorman placing ninth after advancing through qualifying to the main draw.
The losing teams in the quarterfinals all left Umag with great memories and fifth place finishes. Placing fifth were Austria’s ninth-seeded Lorenz Petutsching/Tobias Winter, Canada’s 23rd-seeded Andrew Kocur/Danny Demyanenk, Russia’s seventh-seeded Vasili Andrianov/Viacheslav Kirienko, and Ukraine’s 17th-seeded Anton Artemchuk/Andriy Levehenko.
Finishing with ninth place finishes in the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Youth World Championships were the eight teams that lost matches to start the day Saturday in the Round of 16.
In the combined history of this event, Germany leads all countries with 13 total medals (four for men and nine for women) and final four finishes with 15 total (six for men, nine for men). Second is Poland with eight total medals (six for men and two for women) and in final four finishes with 13 (eight for men and five for women).
This year’s international event is being produced by the Croatian Volleyball Federation in association with MPG of Zagreb, Croatia. MPG has produced four FIVB Swatch World Tour men’s events in Zagreb and this is the first international beach volleyball event ever held in the colorful resort area of Umag.
A total of 1,900 tons of special sand were transported to the ATP Stadion complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue. The sand was brought from Cazma, Croatia, which 370 kilometers east of Umag near Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.
Sport TV of Croatia is taping two special highlight shows including action from the semifinals and medal matches for each gender. An IMG television crew is also on-site to produce special segments from both genders to air internationally on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour highlight shows to air later this summer.
The 2011 FIVB Swatch Youth World Champions in each gender will be rewarded a “wild card” by the FIVB for a future FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour event during the final months of 2011 or during the 2012 season.
More information on the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships is available at both www.fivb.org and the Croatian Volleyball Federation at www.odbojkanapijesku.com.