2017 EUROPEAN BEACH VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Italy’s Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai upset hometown side Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins 21-16, 23-21 for their third European title on Sunday.
Lupo/Nicolai also topped the Latvians in the 2014 championships, with that title coming on their home soil. The duo also won the 2016 crown.
The Latvians, which won the European title in 2015 and were making their third finals appearance in the last four years, could not overcome a slow start in Set 1 and an Italian rally in Set 2.
Nicolai/Lupo missed out on their first match-point chance, but delivered at 23-21 on a stunning rally.
“I really cannot express my feelings right now,” Nicolai said. “I want to thank everyone who worked with us for this moment, our staff and of course Daniele. It takes a great effort to become triple European champions and we are really proud we did it.”
Dutch side Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen claimed their first ever medal at the Euro Championships, taking bronze with a 21-17, 17-21, 15-11 win over Belgians Dries Koekelkoren and Tom van Walle.
Meewsen capped a 21-17 Set 1 win with an ace. The Belgians shook off the loss, jumping ahead 8-4 in Set 2, but the Dutch rallied to tie it up at 11. Koekelkoren/van Walle pushed the lead back to four at 18-14 and closed out a 21-17 win on a Meewsen service error. The Dutch led 5-3 early in Set 3 and took advantage of Belgian errors, en route to the 15-11 win and their first medal. The duo finished fourth in 2015 and 2016.
“We have been chasing this medal since 2011 and were actually talking about it on our way to the stadium,” Meeuwsen said. “At our first EuroBeachVolley in 2011 we finished fifth, at the second we were fifth again. After that, we dropped to ninth and we were fourth again in 2015 and 2016 as well. We were joking that whatever we get today, we will win next year. We have been fourth already enough times, so we really wanted this bronze medal now.”