Lausanne, Switzerland, June 23, 2019 - With the only international action this past weekend in Thailand for the FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships, it's only five days until the first serve at the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
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With Friday's opening pool play matches set for Am Rothenbaum Stadium in Hamburg, Thailand hosted the Under-21 World Championships this past week in Udon Thani where Brazil captured both the men's and women's top podium spots to complete the South American country's sixth sweep of the gold medals at the same youth event.
For the senior worlds, Brazil will be seeking its fifth sweep at the championships as the South American country captured the top of the men's and women's podiums at the 1997, 1999, 2011 and 2015 FIVB World Championships.
When senior action begins on Friday (June 28) with 28 group matches, including 16 for women and 12 for men, the pre-tournament favourites of Rebecca Cavalcanti/Ana Patricia Silva of Brazil and Anders Mol/Christian Sorum of Norway will launch their quests while competing in Pool D and Pool A, respectively.
New world champions will be crowned in Hamburg as the 2017 trophy winners have split highlighted by the retirement from the sport by German Kira Walkenhorst, who captured the Vienna World Championship gold medal with Laura Ludwig.
Ludwig is now paired with Maggie Kozuch as the 34th-seeded team. The Germans will be competing in Pool J with 10th-seeded Maria Antonelli/Carolina Salgado of Brazil, 15th-seeded Kelley Larsen/Emily Stockman of the United States and 39th-seeded Francisca Ikhiede/Tochukwu Nnoruga of Nigeria.
Bumping the Mikasa is Laura Ludwig
With eight centre court matches scheduled on Friday on the Am Rothenbaum Stadium centre court, Ludwig and Kozuch will play their first match at 6 p.m. against Kelley Larsen and Emily Stockman. It will be the second meeting between the two teams as the Americans won the first confrontation on June 14 during the elimination rounds at the Warsaw Open.
Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola teamed to win the 2017 World Championship trophy, but the Brazilians are playing with different partners in Hamburg. Evandro and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, who won the 2015 world title with Alison Cerutti in the Netherlands, will be competing in Pool I as the 16th-seeded team while Andre is paired with George Wanderley in Pool H as seed No. 17.
Evandro and Bruno, who topped the Warsaw Open podium by defeating Mol and Sorum in the final, will be challenged for the first time by 33rd-seeded Cole Durant/Damien Schumann of Australia in their first match Saturday at 2 p.m. on the Am Rothenbaum Stadium centre court.
Bruno (left) and Evandro during their gold medal run in Warsaw
Andre, who at 22 became the youngest men's or women's player to win a World Championship gold medal, and George meet 34th-seeded Robin Seidl/Philipp Waller of Austria in a 7:15 p.m. centre court match Saturday. The Austrians defeated Andre and George in a pool play May 16 at the Itapema Open in Brazil.
The $1-million FIVB World Championships continue through July 7 when the men's gold medal match will be played. The women's finale is July 6 as the winning teams at the 12th edition of the FIVB World Championships will share the $60,000 first place prizes while earning their countries a berth in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
In action this past weekend in Thailand, the 19-year old Lima twins (Rafael/Renato) and the V-Team (Vitoria De Souza/Victoria Lopes) captured the gold medals for Brazil at the 2019 FIVB Under-21 World Championships in Udon Thani.
Golden day for Brazil in Udon Thani
In the men’s final, Rafael and Renato Lima defeated Alberto Di Silvestre and Jakob Windisch of Italy. While Rafael was winning a youth gold medal for the first time, Renato topped a youth podium for the third time after winning the 2017 Under-21 and the 2016 Under-19 World Championship trophy.
Thailand - Udon Thani, June 18-23, 2019 - Men
1. Rafael Lima/Renato Lima, Brazil
2. Alberto Di Silvestre/Jakob Windisch, Italy
3. Miguel Sarabia/Raymond Stephens, Mexico
4. Sergey Gorbenko/Vasilii Ivanov, Russia
Gold - Rafael/Renato def. Di Silvestre/Windisch, 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) (32 minutes)
Bronze - Sarabia/Stephens def. Gorbenko/Ivanov, 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) (33)
Italians, Brazilians and Mexicans on U21 podium
Vitoria and Victoria, who are both 19, defeated Mariia Bocharova and Maria Voronina of Russia in the women's finale after dropping the first set of the gold medal match. The Russians entered the match as the reigning FIVB Under-19 and Youth Olympic champions.
Vitoria's title was her first while Victoria captured the top podium place at the Under-19 World Championships in 2016 on Cyprus with Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa.
Thailand - Udon Thani, June 18-23, 2019 - Women
1. Vitoria De Souza/Victoria Lopes, Brazil
2. Mariia Bocharova/Maria Voronina, Russia
3. Daniela Alvarez Maria Carro, Spain
4. Svenja Muller/Sarah Schulz, Germany
Bronze - Carro/Alvarez def. Muller/Schulz, 2-0 (21-10, 21-18) (30)
Gold - Victoria/Vitoria def. Bocharova/Voronina, 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-13) (45)
Under-21 women's podium featured Russians, Brazilians and Spanish