Men’s final four determined Saturday at FIVB U17 World Championships
The winners now advance to the semifinals and medal matches Sunday while the losing teams leave Acapulco with loads of memories of being part of a world championship event and official fifth-place finishes.
The original men’s field of 25 teams representing each of the five FIVB Confederations has been reduced to four for Sunday’s semifinals, bronze medal and gold medal matches. With three countries of the final four from the European Confederation (CEV), Canada is from the North and Central America Confederation (NORCECA).
With two of the four quarterfinals going to three sets, the matchup for the surviving four teams who advanced to the semifinals will be held at 10 a.m. and start with France’s Marc Darrieux/Timothee Platre facing off against Spain’s Oscar Jimenez/Alejandro Huerta.
The second men’s semifinal Sunday morning will match Switzerland’s Florian Breer/Yves Haussener up against Canada’s Jordan Pereira/Taryq Sani.
ROAD TO THE SEMIS
It’s never easy at any level of beach volleyball to reach the final four and this tournament was no exception.
A rematch from pool play will open things at 10 a.m. local time on center court as Spain beat France in pool play, 27-25, 21-12 in 41 minutes. France’s Darrieux/Platre enter their semifinal with a 5-1 having eliminated teams from Costa Rica and the United States in the elimination rounds while Spain is unbeaten at 4-0 with elimination round wins over teams from USA and the Netherlands.
In the second semifinal, it will be another battle of unbeaten teams as Switzerland’s Breer/Haussener duo is 6-0 with elimination round wins over teams from Russian and Italy while Canada’s Pereira/Sani tandem is 5-0 with elimination round victories over teams from Mexico and Poland.
With a full house enthusiastically supporting the international competition, Spain’s Jimenez/Huerta enjoyed playing on center court while stopping Netherland’s Mees Blom/Nikita Artamonov, 21-11, 21-13 in 30 minutes with court 2 at Playa Tamarindos seeing Canada’s Pereira/Sani come from behind to outlast Poland’s Adam Lenc/Maciej Lewicki in three sets, 19-21, 21-14 and 15-13 in 53 minutes, the longest of the men’s quarterfinals.
In the second two quarterfinals, playing on the Acapulco center court like they were in a senior’s championship and not an age group clash, France’s Darrieux/Platre come back from one set down to eliminate Mexico’s home-country favorites Jose Cardenas/Raymond Stephens, both of Colima, 19-21, 21-19 and 15-12 in 52, disappointing the partisan home country fans.
On court 2 in the second round of semifinals, Switzerland’s Breer/Haussener overpowered Italy’s Manuel Alfieri/Paolo Di Silvestre, 23-21, 21-13 in 43 minutes.
Mexico’s three men’s teams all advanced to the round of 16 and one advanced to the quarterfinals before elimination.
After their fifth victory in this tournament to advance to the final four, Spain’s Huerta and Jimenez both had comments.
Spain’s Huerta got things started by saying: “The Dutch had a tough team and we played pretty well. They are tall, strong and they jump really high so when the ball was in the air things got difficult. But we managed to pass through to the semifinals with a good ball control.”
Huerta’s teammate Jimenez said, “The Netherlands played really well but they aren’t too good receiving the ball with the forearm. On the other hand we are powerful and motivated and play really good as a team. We would only need to practice more our service. We have already played against France and we beat them and that will make this rematch even tougher. But we are very happy to have made it to the semifinals."