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Upsets Highlight Transavia Grand Slam Men’s Pool Play Matches

Alex Ranghieri (left) watches as Italian partner Andrea Tomatis hits the Mikasa in an upset win Wednesday over a higher-seeded team from the United States.

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 16, 2014 - After a competitive qualifier to determine the last eight men’s berths for this week’s FIVB World Tour event in this European country, Wednesday’s action continued to provide “seed-break-throughs” as competition was held at three sites in The Netherlands.

With six of the eight qualifying teams posting “seed-break-throughs” to get a spot in the “money” rounds of the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation, five of Wednesday’s 16 pool play matches were “upsets” where highly-regarded Beach Volleyball tandems from Brazil and the United States were defeated by teams from Austria and Italy.

With the Transavia Grand Slam being the ninth men’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour, 12 of the men’s pool play matches were staged Wednesday on the four sand courts on Scheveningen beach.  Two matches each were also played on specialty-made set ups in the Marktplein at Apeldoorn and the Gustav Mahlerplein in Amsterdam.

Alex Ranghieri and Andrea Tomatis posted Wednesday’s top “seed-break-through” as the 22nd-seeded Italians scored a 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-12) win over 11th-seeded Ryan Doherty and Nick Lucena of the United States in 48 minutes on The Hague Beach Stadium center court.   While the Italians have posted a ninth, 17th and 25th in their last three international events, Doherty and Lucena had earned podium placements in two of the last three FIVB World Tour stops in Germany and Switzerland.

“We played terrible in the first set and at the start of the second one,” said Tomatis.  “Since it was the first-time we played them, we had no set strategy at the start of the match.  Once we changed our serving pattern, we starting playing better and siding out consistently.  Alex’s blocking and my defense got better as the match progressed.  It was the key to our winning.”

Austrian “upsets” were posted by the tandems of 20th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst and 21st-seeded Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl on the Scheveningen beach outer courts.  Doppler and Horst, who placed third in the 2014 European Championships last month in Italy, scored a 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 5-12) win in 46 minutes over 13th-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson of the United States.

Huber and Seidl, who avoided Tuesday’s qualifying upsets, scored a 2-0 (23-21, 22-20) win in 48 minutes over 12th-seeded Vitor Felipe and Evandro Goncalves of Brazil.  It was the second-straight week that Huber and Seidl had posted a pool play win over the Brazilians after also winning in two sets last week in Switzerland.

Although considered a “seed-break-through”, 19th-seeded Alexandr Dyachenko and Alexey Sidorenko of Kazakhstan won by forfeit over 14th-seeded Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland in Amsterdam.  After his team won the first set 21-18, Szalankiewicz was forced to retire with his team trailing 17-13 in the second set due to a back injury.

“I think we were controlling the game,” said Kadziola after comforting his partner.  “We still had some points to gain back in the second set, but this is sport,” he explained.  “Injuries always happen.  We use our bodies for seven or eight months a year and sometimes these things happen.  I’m still not sure Jakub will be ready for tomorrow.”

In one of the final matches Wednesday at Scheveningen beach, 23rd-seeded Sebastian Dollinger and Lars Fluggen defeated seventh-seeded compatriots Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik Germany 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) in 36 minutes.  Dollinger and Fluggen now play reigning FIVB Beach Volleyball world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen Thursday morning as the Dutch pair opened pool play Wednesday with a victory over a team from Switzerland.

The action for the final three days of the competition will be staged only at the Scheveningen courts where the medal matches will be played Sunday.  The final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.

Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event.  The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).


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