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With the last six matches of the men’s round of 16 at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic beach volleyball tournament played on Monday at Shiokaze Park, the line-up for Wednesday’s quarterfinals was completed.

In the only three-setter of the day, Germany’s Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler mastered a powerful comeback against USA’s Jake Gibb and Tri Bourne to snatch the last remaining vacancy among the best eight. In the first set, the lead went back and forth, but the Americans mastered a strong finish to edge in front. An emphatic German reaction followed. Thole and Wickler dominated the second set to win it by a six-point margin and rode the momentum into the tie-breaker until Wickler hammered an off-the-block kill to close the match at 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-11).

In a remake of the 2019 FIVB World Championship final, Thole and Wickler will try to get back at world champs Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy of ROC on Wednesday.

Martins Plavins in defence

Martins Plavins in defence

The men’s programme started with the elimination of defending champion Bruno Schmidt. Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs stayed in control of the scoreboard for the most part of each set producing a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) upset of Bruno and his partner, former world champion Evandro Goncalves.

“That’s not our first win against them. We also beat them in Espinho in 2019. That was our first game and this was the second one. So we knew how to play and what to do,” Tocs told Volleyball World after the match. “Obviously it does not happen every time, but today my partner played awesome and what I did was jumping and scaring them on the block, so they were hitting at Plavins all the time and he did the digging and getting the points.”

Alison and Alvaro in action

Alison and Alvaro in action

In the quarterfinals, Plavins and Tocs will have to lock horns with the other defending champion, Alison Cerutti, and Alvaro Filho. The Brazilians hammered out an emphatic 2-0 (21-14, 21-13) win over Mexico’s Josue Gaxiola and Jose Luis Rubio to advance in the tournament.

“The feeling is so amazing!” exclaimed Alvaro. “We played great today against a very strong team. They were very strong in their pool, playing against some of the best teams in the world. We studied them a lot, but we had never played against them before. But they know what to do against us. So we knew that we had to be focused all the time on our side-out and our tactics in serving and defence. We put a lot of energy in this match, because it was a final. Every match now is a final. Latvia are a very strong team. They beat a very strong team, Bruno and Evandro, but today we just want to enjoy the victory and tomorrow we can start thinking about Latvia.”

Semenov smiles with a sense of victory

Semenov smiles with a sense of victory

In their eighthfinal match, Ilya Leshukov and Konstantin Semenov of ROC kept more focused on the court when it counted the most, at the ends of the sets, to register a convincing 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) victory over Chile’s Marco Grimalt and Esteban Grimalt and advance to the quarterfinals, where they are going to challenge Norway’s Anders Mol and Christian Sorum.

“They won the coin toss and picked a side, leaving the reception to us, and then quickly went to 4-0. Obviously, there their choice was logical, because they served well, or maybe they were not confident in their side-out, which helped score the next five to take the lead,” Semenov said. “At this stage, there are no weak opponents. Everyone can beat everyone, so we are ready to fight with the Norwegians. It’s a tough match. A big battle is coming. It will be a great show.”

Triumfujący Krasilnikov

Triumfujący Krasilnikov

In a similar fashion, their compatriots Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy edged Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira turning each of the sets in their favour in the money time, 2-0 (22-20, 21-17).

“The Spanish team is really strong and very experienced. We’ve played them many times and we knew what to expect from them. And we always expect only a hard game. So we are happy to have won today,” said Stoyanovskiy. “We were losing in the beginnings of both sets, but we managed to stay focused in side-out and in serving, which helped us in the end. Also with some luck, in the end we won.”

Intense moment for Lupo and Nicolai

Intense moment for Lupo and Nicolai

The first set of the match between Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo of Italy and Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland delivered a fierce battle for every point, which pushed the set to overtime before the Italians were able to win it. They managed to open up a gap early into the second set and held up through the end, 2-0 (22-20, 21-18). In the quarterfinals, they will lock horns with Qatar’s Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan.

“We have so much respect for the Polish team, because they are really strong. They play great and really consistent,” said Nicolai. “It was a very tough match. But we know that our level is good enough to win every game, so that’s what we are doing. It was an amazing feeling today. Every game here at the Olympics is something that makes us really proud and I think we are showing this feeling every ball and every match.”