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Prelude to Fort Lauderdale

With Italian partner Daniele Lupo (left) watching, Paolo Nicolai (center) hits against Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands in the Milan Masters bronze medal match Sunday.
Milan, Italy, September 20, 2015 - In 11 days in the United States, the Beach Volleyball tandems of Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands and Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy will be meeting in a pool play match at the US$500,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals at an iconic site in south Florida.

But playing on an indoor court here Sunday in the bronze medal match at the Milan Masters, Brouwer and Meeuwsen defeated Lupo and Nicolai 2-1 (21-16, 13-21, 15-8) for the third-place prize.  Both pairs had cruised to the “final four” at the European Tour event with three-straight wins, but stumbled in the semi-finals.

When the two teams meet October 1 at 2 p.m. (local time) in a Pool A match on the Stadium court at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, it will mark the 10th meeting between two of the top-ranked teams on the 2015 FIVB World Tour.  With the victory Sunday, Brouwer and Meeuwsen lead the head-to-head series with the Italians 5-4 as the first eight matches were on the FIVB World Tour starting in October 2011 at Agadir, Morocco.

With six of the nine matches being three-setters, Brouwer and Meeuwsen won the first meeting in Morocco with the Italians reeling off four-straight victories in 2012 and 2013.  After not playing each other in 2014, the two teams have met four times in 2015 with the Dutch winning all four matches starting with triumphs over Lupo and Nicolai at FIVB World Tour events in Russia, The Netherlands and Switzerland.

With one FIVB World Tour event left prior to the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals, Brouwer and Meeuwsen rank third on the international circuit with Lupo and Nicolai 11th.  The Dutch are one of two FIVB world championship teams in the Fort Lauderdale field after topping the 2013 podium in Stare Jablonki, Poland.  In July at The Hague, Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt replaced Brouwer and Meeuwsen as reigning FIVB world champions.

Highlighted by a gold medal finish at the SWATCH Major Series event at the start of June in Porec, Croatia, Brouwer and Meeuwsen are having their best season as the pair has combined to earn $175,000 for 10 world tour events with five “final four” finishes, four podium placements and three appearances in the finals.

After winning the European championships and two FIVB World Tour gold medals in 2014, Lupo and Nicolai have only one semi-final appearance in 2015 as the Italians placed third in their last FIVB event in Poland.  Despite not matching their 2014 totals, Lupo and Nicolai rank as the top Italian men’s or women’s team in the FIVB World Tour record book.

The SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals will be played September 29 through October 4.  With 10 teams each in both the men’s and women’s competition, the winning pairs October 4 will split the $100,000 first-place paychecks with the silver medal teams sharing $60,000 for second-place.  Pool play will be featured the first four days with elimination rounds set for October 2, 3 and 4.


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