BPT Challenge Torquay Men - ITAvsPOR-2

Alex Ranghieri & Adrian Carambula

At the very first tournament after two of the leading Italian pairs switched partners, they will meet in the final to collect the first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour medals for any of the four Olympians involved. On Sunday, at 18:00 local time (07:00 UTC), third-seeded Daniele Lupo and Enrico Rossi will take on fourth-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri in the men’s final at the Torquay Challenge in Australia, after winning Saturday’s semifinals against the top-seeded home team of Christopher McHugh and Paul Burnett, and Portuguese qualifiers Joao Pedrosa and Hugo Campos, respectively. The Aussies and the Portuguese will lock horns for the bronze at 17:00 (06:00).

· Watch all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Torquay Challenge event live on Volleyball TV.

Carambula and Ranghieri stopped the rise of 10th-seeded Pedrosa and Campos in Saturday’s first men’s semifinal, defeating them in straight sets, 2-0 (27-25, 21-13). After their first successful collaboration from 2015 through 2017, the two Italian Olympians reunited for this doubleheader in Torquay and managed to advance to the final at their Tour debut as a pair. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Portuguese players are looking for their first Challenge podium, after claiming a Beach Pro Tour silver at the Cortegaca Futures back in August.

In cold and windy conditions, the first set of the semifinal between the Italians and the Portuguese offered a fierce battle. Pedrosa and Campos maintained a slight edge during the first half of the set, but after 13-13, Carambula and Ranghieri took control to run off with a three-point lead. Three in a row by the Portuguese levelled the score at 18-18 and prompted a nail-biting epilogue. Pedrosa and Campos denied as many as six Italian set points, before 35-year-old Ranghieri finally converted the seventh with a monster block for 27-25. The second set was quite competitive through 10-10, with the youngsters even enjoying a two-point edge at times. After that, however, it was one-sided. With 34-year-old Carambula leading the offence, and Ranghieri helping with his blocks, the Italians broke away to open a wide gap and take the match on a tip by Mr. Skyball for the 21-13 winner.

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“Last time we played together was five years ago,” Ranghieri said. “Now we are having so much fun in this crazy weather, we are having a blast, we are so happy! The setup in Australia is amazing and we love it.”

“We do have the game to win this tournament,” Carambula added. “We just have to recover tonight and play our best ball tomorrow. I always love being on centre court and love playing with the energy of a good crowd...”

To progress to that semifinal, Carambula and Ranghieri fought back from a set down in their quarterfinal against Switzerland’s Quentin Metral and Yves Haussener to celebrate with a 2-1 (19-21, 21-14, 21-13) victory earlier on Saturday, with Ranghieri raising seven kill blocks towards a match high of 24 points. Pedrosa and Campos, who started their Torquay campaign from Wednesday’s qualifiers, arrived at the last four of the tournament after a 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 15-12) upset of fifth-seeded Australians Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis in the quarterfinals. Campos scored 22 times to become the best scorer of that game, while Pedrosa impressed with five stuffs.

BPT Challenge Torquay Men - ITAvsPOR-11

Joao Pedrosa against Alex Ranghieri at the net

The second men’s semifinal on Saturday evening was even more competitive. Lupo and Rossi took three sets to overcome the resistance of McHugh and Burnett and claim a 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 15-13) victory. 29-year-old Rossi, who previously played with Carambula, and 31-year-old Lupo, who had been partnering with Ranghieri since the start of the season, are now certain to be on the podium at their very first event as a team. 33-year-old Olympian McHugh and his 24-year-old teammate Burnett will try to earn their second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the silver they took at the Kusadasi Challenge in May.

The first set of Saturday’s last match was quite competitive, with the lead changing hands several times and swinging from a point in favour of the Australians to three points in favour of the Italians. After 15-15, however, Rossi took charge at the net and led his team to a 21-18 close, himself swinging for the winning point. Three monster blocks in a row by McHugh, followed up by a successful swing from Burnett, gave the Aussies a 4-0 advantage at the start of the second set. They kept the pressure and their lead went as wide as seven points at 12-5 and 13-6. The Italians fought back, but all they could to do was get back to within two on a couple of occasions before a block-out hit by Burnett finished the set at 21-17 the Aussies’ way.

They made a perfect start to the tie-breaker taking an early 3-0 lead, but this time the Italians not only caught up quickly, but scoring four in a row, including two aces by Lupo, gained a 5-4 advantage. The European side stayed in control and even had a three-point edge at 11-8, before the home team tied it back at 13-13 on another monster block by McHugh. However, Rossi elegantly tipped the ball to bring in match point and Lupo just as elegantly tipped it too, to convert it to a 15-13 win. McHugh’s 27-point tally included as many as eight kill blocks, while Rossi topped the match charts on a total of 28 points.

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You can watch highlights on our YouTube channel & full matches on VBTV.

“It’s incredible to start this new project this way and we are very happy,” Rossi said. “It’s amazing to play here. We know we played against the local heroes, but the crowd was amazing.”

“For sure, tomorrow will be a battle, but we know we have to enjoy it,” Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Lupo added.

In their quarterfinal matches, Lupo and Rossi outplayed another Australian pair, second-seeded Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert, by an emphatic 2-0 (21-15, 21-14), while McHugh and Burnett edged sixth-seeded Frenchmen Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat to take a 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-11) victory, with a 26-point match high from McHugh.

BPT Challenge Torquay Men - AUSvsITA-53

Enrico Rossi & Daniele Lupo