The Hague, The Netherlands, June 17, 2017 - In a contest between “veterans” and “newbies” for the men’s bronze medal at the US$150,000 Dela Beach Open, experience was the difference as Italians Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicola captured their 19th FIVB World Tour medal by defeating Nico Beeler and Marco Krattiger of Switzerland for the third spot on the podium.
With the Italians competing in their 63rd FIVB World Tour event since forming their partnership in April 2011, the 11th-seeded Lupo and Nicolai posted a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) bronze medal win in 35 minutes over the 20th-seeded Beeler and Krattiger. The victory netted the Italians $5,000 while Beeler and Krattiger split $4,000 for the fourth-place finish.
One of Lupo and Nicolai’s 19 FIVB medals was achieved at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where the Italians dropped the gold medal match to Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil. Competing in their 19th World Tour “final four”, Lupo and Nicolai have won gold medals three FIVB events.
The third-place finish this week marks the best finish for the Italians in The Hague as Lupo and Nicolai were a fifth in 2011 followed by three-straight 17ths in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The Italians have an overall FIVB match mark of 224-110 (67.1 percent) with a 16-10 record in The Hague.
"Yes, this was our first medal in The Hague," said Nicolai, "and I hope it's not the last one. Next time we will try to do better. But for today we are so happy with the bronze. The key in today's match with the Swiss could be experience. We stayed calm and focused, also when we were down in the score. And we came back and won."
Beeler and Krattiger were playing in their seventh FIVB World Tour event together and this week’s finish erased the disappointment of their previous two appearances on the international circuit where the Swiss failed to qualify for the Main Draws in Brazil and Russia.
After finishing 25th in their first FIVB start last August in Austria, the 24-year old Beeler and 22-year old Krattiger posted three-straight ninths to start 2017 at stops in the United States, Iran and China. The Swiss have a 10-10 match mark this season and 13-13 overall for seven events.
Marco Krattiger (left) with a Mikasa reception as Swiss partner Nico Beeler follows the action.
The men’s gold medal match will feature sixth-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain against seventh-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin of Russia as both finalist defeated the Italians and Swiss, respectively, in Saturday evening’s semi-finals.
After posting elimination wins over pairs from Brazil and Canada Saturday, Gavira and Herrera advanced to their seventh FIVB gold medal match by defeating Lupo and Nicolai 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) in a 38-minute semi-final match. It was the Spaniards’ second win this weekend over Lupo and Nicolai to even the FIVB World Tour series between the two teams at 5-5.
To gain a spot in their third FIVB World Tour gold medal match this season in six events, Krasilnikov and Liamin scored a 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) semi-final victory in 40 minutes over Beeler and Krattiger. The Russians are now 2-0 against Beeler and Krattiger after defeating the Swiss pair during their gold medal run in mid-February on Kish Island in Iran.
Being played at the Sportcampus Zuiderpark, a newly-constructed multifunctional sports and education center, the Dela Beach Open was the first-ever FIVB World Tour event to stage competition on both indoor and outdoor courts at the same time. In addition, international Beach Volleyball competition was being held in conjunction with FIVB World League contests where The Netherlands was hosting the Czech Republic, Korea and the Slovak Republic this weekend at the 3,000-seat venue which is also the new training center for the Dutch federation's Beach Volleyball program.
Following the Dela Beach Open, the international circuit takes a week off before resuming play with SWATCH Major Series stops in Croatia (Porec, June 27-July 2) and Switzerland (Gstaad, July 4-9). Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Vienna and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.