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Men move masterfully to eliminations at FIVB U17 World Championships

While the FIVB World Tour is in their home country, Netherlands' Nikita Artamonov, left, and Mees Bloom won their pool with a 3-0 mark heading into Friday's start of the elimination rounds at the inaugural FIVB U17 World Championships in Acapulco.
Acapulco, Mexico, July 17, 2014 — With round-robin pool play completed Thursday for men, the youngest guns of international beach volleyball, all under 17 years old, have hit, spiked and dug their way into Friday’s start of single-eliminations at the inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships being held through Sunday in Acapulco, Mexico.

A total of 25 men’s teams representing each of the five FIVB Confederations are at Playa Tamarindos in Acapulco Bay alongside of the glistening Pacific Ocean in this history-making event to determine the first FIVB U17 World Champions in each gender on Sunday.

Competing in the sand-steps of FIVB World Tour stars who graced Playa Tamarindos three times previously for FIVB Open events, the FIVB U17 World Championships had men’s teams split into five pools for three round-robin matches within their respective pools. The top teams have advanced to the knockout, single-elimination rounds of the tournament earn the first FIVB U17 title.

Teams from host country Mexico, Canada, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland were all unbeaten to win their respective pools and earn a bye into the second round of the elimination play (round of 16) on Friday.

Filled with intense competition, Mexico’s Jose Cardenas/Raymond Stephens, both of Colima, were the first official pool winners and won twice on Thursday to finish with a perfect 3-0 record in pool play heading into the elimination rounds. On Thursday, Mexico’s Cardenas/Stephens opened play by defeating Costa Rica’s Johel Jimenez/Josafath Vargas, 21-16, 21-6 in 28 minutes and came back to win their final pool play match by holding on against Russia’s Alexey Trokhan/Vasilii Ivanov, 21-16, 17-21 and 15-10 in 47 minutes.

The other men’s pool winners were Canada’s Sharone Evans/Parvir Jhajj, Italy’s Manuel Alfieri/Paolo Di Silvestre, Netherland’s Mees Blom/Nikita Artamonov, Spain’s Oscar Jimenez/Alejandro Huerta and Switzerland’s Florian Breer/Yves Haussener. All of the pool-winning teams were 3-0 in pool play except Switerzerland’s Breer/Haussener who went 4-0 as their pool had five teams because of adjustments the FIVB made to accommodate the teams that came to Mexico.

Spain’s Huerta, following the match that earned his team’s advancement to the single-elimination portion of the event, said, “I played indoor volleyball but two years ago I started playing beach volleyball and I prefer it. However I have never been in a court like this with such a view. Usually we play in places different than this one and with a different weather. The competition is very strong and we are thankful to have won our pool.”

“This is not our first big event, we played one back in Europe so we feel somehow comfortable in this environment.  I think it has been a great experience for us and we’re not finished yet.”

As the host nation, Mexico has three men’s and four women’s teams in their respective main draws. Mexico’s men’s teams in the championships completed pool play with a 6-4 match record.

Besides Mexico’s Cardenas/Stephens who won their pool, the other Mexican teams in the tournament were Carlos Hernandez/Wilfrido Martinez , both from Coatzacoalcos, who finished pool play with a 1-2 record and Miguel Verduzco/Miguel Sarabia, both from Tijuana, who finished the first phase of the tournament at 2-2.

In addition to Mexico, other countries with two teams each in the men’s field are Australia, Canada, Portugal, Russia and the United States who combined for a 14-15 pool play record overall. Australia was 1-3, Canada 4-3, Portugal 2-4, Russia 4-2 and the USA was 3-3 in pool play.

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