Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen

Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, seeded 22nd in the J&T Banka Ostrava Beach Open 2021 4-star main draw, celebrated with the trophy after a hard-fought comeback in the final against the home team. The prominent Dutch pair added the seventh gold medal to their showcase, which also contains seven silvers and six bronzes from FIVB events.

Top seeds Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner took their second Ostrava silver in a row to improve their FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour record to one gold, four silvers and one bronze.

Andre Stein and George Wanderley, the 19th-seeded Brazilian pair, claimed the bronze, the team’s third medal on the World Tour. Previously, they had a silver and another bronze in 2019.

The men’s podium in Ostrava

The men’s podium in Ostrava

Some fantastic blocking by Schweiner gave the Czechs an 8-4 lead in the first set of the final. Brouwer and Meeuwsen reacted immediately with a five-point streak to momentarily take the lead. Inspired by the noisy crowd in the stands, the home team broke away with another four-point lead at 15-11 and never looked back on the way to an emphatic 21-13 win. Putting more precision into their game in the second set, the Dutch maintained an advantage that brought them to a triple set point. Perusic and Schweiner denied the first two, but on the third, Brouwer put it away for a 21-19 close to prompt a tie-breaker.

Perusic showed all his brilliance in defence, but also in offence, to help his team edge out to an 8-4 lead in the deciding set. The Dutch once again reacted swiftly to level it at 10-10 and even take control of the scoreboard. Finally, Brouwer hammered down the line to deliver the match point, after which a wide shot by Schweiner finished the match off at 15-13 the Netherlands’ way.

“I don’t know! I don’t have many words right now. I mean, how did we win this?” Robert Meeuwsen said right after receiving the trophy. “We fought so hard for it this tournament. We were really struggling all season so far, but we kept pushing and I’m so happy we won this. The Czech guys were playing really well, making almost every side-out. We had to force so much our service pressure. We were able to pull that off and I’m so happy with the way we kept fighting, we kept going for it and made it.”

The first set of the bronze medal match was a heated battle between two powerful teams, Andre and George and Russia’s Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy. With each side failing to open a lead wider than two points, the set was pushed deep into overtime before Brazil could finally close it at 27-25. The second set was also really tight, with Andre and George maintaining a small lead for a while. Two consecutive unforced errors by the Russians in offence gave Brazil a 17-13 lead, comfortable enough to ride on the side-out through to a victorious 21-18 ending, with George hammering the winner.

“First of all, I would like to thank everybody in the Czech federation, because this is amazing! We haven’t played in front of such a crowd for two years and the energy is amazing!” George said after the match. “I think the game was really hard from the beginning to the end, as hard as always against them. The Russian team is really good, so we are very happy we came out on top. We are happy with the bronze, but not satisfied, because we also had a good semifinal match we should have won, but the other team had better plays.”

In a spectacular Sunday morning semifinal, featuring three overtime sets, Brouwer and Meeuwsen took the upper hand for a 2-1 (22-20, 24-26, 16-14) victory over Andre and George. Before that, the semifinal between Perusic and Schweiner and Krasilnikov and Stoyanovskiy was far more one-sided, with the Czechs hammering out a 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) shutout.