Reigning Olympic and world champions Anders Mol and Christian Sørum started the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour season on the right foot as the Norwegian superstars secured the title of the Doha Elite16 event that came to an end on Sunday in the Qatari capital.
Brilliant Mol and Sørum secure Doha Elite16 title
A week after their victory at The Finals, the Norwegians return to the top of the podium in Qatar
Published 07:43, 05 Feb 2023
The Beach Volley Vikings displayed nerves of steel to prevail in the gold medal match at the Aspire Park sports complex, downing Swedish rising stars David Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig 2-0 (21-19, 21-19). Italian veterans Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Carambula completed the podium.
Besides starting the 2023 international season with a victory, the reigning Olympic champions also took the first step towards defending their title at Paris 2024 as they added 1,200 points to their Olympic Rankings with their victory in Qatar. Åhman and Hellvig secured 1,100 points while Ranghieri and Carambula start their count at 1,000.
The gold medal match in Doha added another chapter to the growing rivalry between the Norwegians and Swedes. Although Mol and Sørum have won five of the six duels against the 21-year-old Åhman and Hellvig, last year they saw their rivals end their four-year winning streak at the European Championship.
“We had a really difficult match in the semifinals earlier today and were really tired,” Mol commented. “We got some rest and were ready to fight again. I think we really put everything we had into this game because we had to play the best we could to beat the Swedish boys. It was a great final and they’re really pushing us to our best level every time.”
The victory in the gold medal match ended a productive trip to Doha for the Norwegians, who last week won the 2022 Beach Pro Tour Finals in the Qatari capital and triumphed in all their 12 matches in the city. The Beach Volley Vikings have won four of the last six tournaments they have played, taking bronze in the other two.
“I said it last week and I’ll say it again – Anders Mol is the difference,” Sørum said. “But we have good chemistry and we never give up, we push each other all the time. He has some X-factors with his blocking and his serving and that allows me to stay patient and work on my side-out because I know that in the end, he’ll make a difference. I can’t believe we made it to the final again and that we won it.”
The Swedes had a promising start to the gold medal match, quickly building a 7-3 lead in the first set. The Norwegians patiently found their way back into the set and only trailed by two points following a ball-handling error from Åhman at 11-9. Shortly after that, the Vikings scored three in a row to get a two-point lead of their own at 15-13. Hellvig was able to bring the set back to a single point at 16-15 with his blocking, but Mol sent a Swedish overpass straight down to take the set 21-19.
Mol and Sørum were in control in set two from the start, after they scored the first two points. They headed to the technical timeout with a 12-9 lead after Mol made an impressive dig and got the kill. The Swedes had a good run later in the set and forced the Norwegians to call a timeout when the difference came down to a single point at 15-14, but a kill from Sørum and an ace from Mol gave the Vikings breathing room again. In the end, another swing from Sørum ended the set 21-19 in favour of the Norwegians.
Italians Ranghieri and Carambula were too much for Poles Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak in the bronze medal match, securing the third and last spot on the podium with a tight two-set (22-20, 22-20) victory.
The Italians, who were partners for the first time between 2015 and 2017 and reunited at the end of last year, have now made their third podium appearance in four events since they resumed their partnership.
“We’re super focused, but at the same time just enjoying it,” Ranghieri analysed. “When we decided to be partners again, we knew there was a lot we needed to fix in ourselves to make it work. And now we’re just enjoying the game and supporting each other on the court. And that’s been working out well so far.”
In the semifinals, Mol and Sørum needed all three sets (21-16, 18-21, 15-12) to overcome Ranghieri and Carambula while Åhman and Hellvig handled Bryl and Losiak in two (21-16, 21-18).
The Beach Pro Tour resumes in March, with simultaneous Challenge and Futures tournaments taking place in La Paz, Mexico, and Mt. Maunganui Beach, New Zealand, respectively from the 16th to the 19th. The next Elite16 tournament will take place in Tepic, Mexico, the following week.