After four consecutive victories at the Foro Italico, the Estonians will now face an American team

Mart Tiisaar and Kusti Nolvak are one of several teams competing at the Beach Volleyball World Championship for the first time this year in Rome, but, despite their relatively short experience on the biggest stage, not many of the top duos playing at the Foro Italico would like to have the Estonians in their bracket.

That’s because the 30-year-old Tiisaar and the 31-year-old Nolvak have been playing the best volleyball of their careers in 2022. They finished fourth in two of the four Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour events they played at this year, including the Jurmala Elite16, the last event before the World Championship.

· Watch all matches at the Rome 2022 World Championships live on Volleyball.tv.

Partners since 2016, when the two players started competing internationally, Tiisaar and Nolvak have undeniably been in great form in Rome. The two went undefeated to win Pool C and caused one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far by defeating Dutch Olympic medallists and 2013 world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.

The Estonians didn’t slow down at the start of the elimination round on Wednesday, topping Canadians Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing in straight sets (21-18, 21-16) to continue moving forward.

“The Canadians are a very strong team, they’re so experienced,” said Tiisaar, who had eight blocks against the Canadians. “Sam played really good defence, but I think we forced Dearing to make some mistakes after we blocked him a couple of times and that was the key. It was funny that we had a good lead in the second set, but I still wasn’t super confident. We had a really good start to the season and our game has definitely made some steps forward. We’re happy with that, but we feel that there’s a lot more we can do.”


Nolvak and Tiisaar celebrate with fans and family who made the trip to Rome

Tiisaar and Nolvak are now set to face Americans Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb, who defeated Dutch pair Leon Luini and Ruben Penninga 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-10) on Wednesday, in the Round of 16. If they can keep their momentum and secure another victory, the Estonians will be among the best eight teams in the tournament, achieving their self-established goal for the World Championship.

“Coming here and playing all these very good teams, it’s really exciting,” Nolvak added. “I feel like we just want to play and get better and this is a very good place to get better. We like to set high targets for ourselves and our goal coming here is to finish in the top eight. Our families are here supporting us and it’s been great to have them around.”

Reigning Olympic champions Anders Mol and Christian Sorum of Norway have also advanced to the Round of 16 after they downed Dutch team Stefan Boermans and Matthew Immers in two sets (21-18, 21-17). The Beach Volley Vikings will now face Austrians Robin Seidl and Phillip Waller, who eliminated Americans Taylor Sander and Taylor Crabb with a three-set (17-21, 21-15, 15-9) victory.

Brazil will have four of the 16 teams competing in the Round of 16 on Wednesday. Rio 2016 Olympic champion Alison Cerutti and partner Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes will be one of them after they knocked Spanish veterans Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira out with a straight-set (21-19, 21-18) win. Their next opponents will be Chilean cousins Marco and Esteban Grimalt, who downed top-seeded Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi in two sets (21-17, 21-18) to silence the centre court at the Foro Italico.

Vitor Felipe and Renato Lima got the most surprising and arguably most difficult Round of 32 win among the Brazilian teams, and needed all three sets (18-21, 21-15, 15-13) to oust Czechs Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner. They will face another tough challenge in the Round of 16, where they will play Italians Paolo Nicolai and Samuele Cottafava, who prevailed over Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Diaz 2-0 (21-18, 21-18).

World ranking leaders Andre Loyola and George Wanderley used their experience to top Australians Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett in straight sets (21-18, 21-15). They will now be faced with another Australian team, Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis, who cruised past Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen in two sets (21-17, 21-16).

Rio 2016 Olympic champion Bruno Schmidt and partner Saymon Barbosa did just enough to top Latvian veterans Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins in two closely-contested sets (21-19, 29-27). Tokyo Olympic bronze medallists Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar will be the next to cross their path after they bested Austrians Alexander Huber and Christoph Dressler in straight sets (21-15, 24-22).

Brouwer and Meeuwsen won the all-Dutch encounter with Christiaan Varenhorst and Steven van de Velde 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) and will also move forward. Their Round of 16 opponents will be Italians Daniele Lupo and Alex Ranghieri, who ended the day with a two-set (21-18, 21-17) triumph against French pair Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat.

The eighth and final Round of 16 matchup will reunite Americans Theo Brunner and Chaim Schalk, who downed Austrians Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz in three sets (17-21, 21-18, 15-12), and Polish Piotr Kantor and Maciej Rudol, who upset Germans Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers in two (21-19, 21-19).

All Round of 16 matches will be held on Thursday, with the quarterfinal encounters scheduled for Friday. The semifinals will be played on Saturday, followed by the medal matches on Sunday, the last of ten days of competition in the Italian capital.