Daniele Lupo and Alex Ranghieri couldn’t have hoped for a better start for their team. Playing together for the first time, the Italian Olympians showed strength by winning their two initial matches as partners and advanced to the Round of 16 of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour four-star event in Itapema on Thursday.
A Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist, the 30-year-old Lupo decided to join forces with the 34-year-old Ranghieri just a month ago, when his ten-year partnership with Paolo Nicolai came to an end after the two finished fourth at the World Tour Finals in Sardinia.
Despite the short time together, the two prepared well enough to be in position to start their partnership with a pair of victories as they defeated Austrians Felix Friedl and Maximilian Trummer 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) and Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen also in two sets (21-17, 21-16) to top Pool F.
“I thought we played really well today,” Lupo reacted. “We kept a pretty good level during the day. The Norwegian team is really strong and we had to play well to beat them. The key was focusing on every single point, that’s what we’ll have to do to have success as a team.”
Two Brazilian teams also started their international trajectories on the right foot as both Alison Cerutti/Gustavo ‘Guto’ Carvalhaes and Evandro Goncalves/Alvaro Filho won their pools in Itapema. The host country has as many as four duos guaranteed in the Round of 16 after Andre Loyola/George Wanderley and Vitor Felipe/Renato Andrew did the same.
Alison, a Rio 2016 Olympic Champion, and the 28-year-old Guto were solid in their first match, keeping Spanish Javier Huerta and Oscar Jimenez under control to secure a 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) victory. On their second meeting, the Brazilians prevailed over the new American duo of Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander also in two sets (21-15, 21-17) to win Pool B.
Alison’s former partner Alvaro and 2017 world champion Evandro had an inconsistent debut against Italians Davide Benzi and Carlo Bonifazi, but pulled out a 2-1 (17-21, 21-14, 15-11) win. The two found their rhythm in the second match of the day and cruised past Russians Maksim Hudyakov and Aleksandr Kramarenko with a straight-set (21-13, 21-11) triumph to top Pool A.
The three other international teams that finished at the top of their pools and are qualified for the Round of 16 are Estonia’s Mart Tiisaar/Kusti Nolvak, Austria’s Alexander Huber/Christoph Dressler and Sweden’s David Ahman/Jonatan Hellvig.
The main draw continues for the men on Friday with the conclusion of pool play, the Round of 24 and the Round of 16. The quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Saturday and the medal matches on Sunday.
All matches are streamed live on Beach Volleyball World’s YouTube channel.
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Itapema
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020