Netherlands vs. USA for men’s gold at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, October 10, 2015 — Battling through intense heat in the stadium and even hotter competition, teams from Netherlands and the United States emerged from the sand Saturday and the talented tandems will meet in Sunday’s men’s gold medal match at the double-gender $150,000 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open, the season opening event on the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

Sunday’s men’s gold medal match is scheduled for 4 p.m. local time preceded by the men’s bronze medal match at 2 p.m.

The double-gender event, the first of three tournaments on the 2015 portion of the 2016 FIVB World Tour schedule, is being held through Sunday at the purpose-built event site on Playa Camarones. Back in Puerto Vallarta for the second straight year, the FIVB World Tour is visiting Mexico for the sixth time for men and the sixth time for women.

Meeting in the men’s gold medal match will be Netherlands’ third-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen and USA’s fourth-seeded Nick Lucena/Phil Dalhausser.  In the men’s bronze medal match, Germany’s 10th-seeded Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen will play against Germany’s 20th-seeded (third-seeded qualification team) twin brothers Bennet Poniewaz/David Poniewaz.

The gold medal team in each gender at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500.

In the men’s gold medal match, USA’s fourth-seeded Lucena/ Dalhausser will meet Netherlands’ third-seeded Brouwer/Meeuwsen in what will be a ‘rubber’ match as the two teams have faced each other twice with each match going three sets with the team winning the first set eventually winning the match. They both are undefeated in Puerto Vallarta with 6-0 records.

In their first meeting in August in Olsztyn, Poland, the Dutch defeated the Americans in pool play, 21-18, 18-21 and 15-12 in 47 minutes.  Last week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA at the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals, USA won in the semifinals over the Dutch, 21-18, 19-21 and 15-12 in 58 minutes.

This is just the eighth FIVB international tournament for USA’s Lucena/Dalhausser. In their first seven events, the American duo has won one gold medal with three silver medals and one fifth place finish. As a team, this is their fifth gold medal match in their last six events, including a silver medal at last week’s Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals.

Individually, this is Lucena’s 77th FIVB international tournament and he has one career FIVB gold medal.  For Dalhausser, this is his 88th FIVB international event and he has earned 30 career FIVB gold medals.

For Netherlands’ Brouwer/Meeuwsen, this is their 50th FIVB international event as a team and in their first 49 events they have 14 final four appearances with two gold medals, three silver medals and one bronze. Individually, Brouwer has played in 65 FIVB career events with two gold medals and Meeuwsen is playing in his 56th career FIVB event and he also has two career FIVB gold medals.

Both teams played and defeated Germany’s Poniewaz twins in Puerto Vallarta, Lucena/Dalhausser winning in pool play over the Germans, 21-14, 21-16 in 35 minutes. Netherlands’ Brouwer/Meeuwsen won their semifinal match over the Germans in two sets as well.

Meeting for the first time in an FIVB international event and for a bronze medal, Germany’s 10th-seeded Bockermann/Fluggen and their German compatriot 20th-seeded (third-seeded qualification team) twin brothers B. Poniewaz/D. Poniewaz.

Germany’s Bockermann, with 57 career FIVB international events played and Fluggen, with 26 career FIVB international events are playing in their 12th FIVB international event as a team with one gold medal and two silver medals. In April of this year, the German tandem won their first FIVB gold medal with their victory at the 2015 season-opening FIVB Fuzhou Open in China. Germany’s Bockermann/Fluggen are 4-2 in Puerto Vallarta.

For Germany’s Poniewaz twins, just 22 years old, this is their ninth FIVB international event as a team and first final four appearance, although they do have a pair of fifth place finishes. The German brothers have a 5-3 record here, including their qualification win on Tuesday.

In Saturday’s first semifinal in front of a packed house at the Playa Camarones stadium, USA’s fourth-seeded Lucena/Dalhausser needed three sets to do it, came from behind, but eventually pulled away from Germany’s 10th-seeded Bockermann/ Fluggen, winning 10-21, 21-18 and 15-8 in 57 minutes. The match was a rematch of the FIVB Xiamen Open gold medal match of two weeks which USA’s Lucena/Dalhausser won in two sets.

In Saturday’s second semi, Netherlands’ third-seeded Brouwer/Meeuwsen displayed their world champions’ power and out-muscled Germany’s surprising 20th-seeded B. Poniewaz/D. Poniewaz in two sets, 21-16, 21-17 in 37 minutes.

Playing with 88F temperature that felt like 101 degrees with 75 percent humidity, USA’s Lucena/Dalhausser went three sets for the fourth straight match in Puerto Vallarta out of six total so far and after a very cautious first set, came back in the second to ease past Germany’s Bockermann/Fluggen and then let loose with some serious heat in the tiebreaker to win it 15-8 to earn the match win.

While the Germans started strong in serving Lucena, the Americans never seemed rattled and got their groove back in the second set before dominating the third set with near flawless play including sever patented Dalhausser blocks and get defense from Lucena.

The second semifinal was played in slightly cooler conditions with the air temperature still at 88F, but it felt like 99 degrees with 70 percent humidity and light winds. Netherlands’ Brouwer/Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB World Champions, played like they had gone beyond their 2013 form, keeping a few points ahead of the determined Poniewaz twins, exchanging blocks and serves with strong defense to win in a relatively quick time, considering the overall playing conditions.

Saturday’s late morning quarterfinals brought some more intense heat to the sand in Puerto Vallarta with a pair of upsets.

Starting at the top, Germany’s 10th-seeded Bockermann/Fluggen stunned Netherlands’ top-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst in straight sets, 21-14, 21-17 in 36 minutes. Following that surprise seed breakthrough, Germany’s 20th-seeded B. Poniewaz/D. Poniewaz eliminated USA’s sixth-seeded John Hyden/Tri Bourne in three sets, 21-17, 19-21 and 15-11 in 58 minutes.

In the other more expected results with a surprising twist, Netherlands’ third-seeded Brouwer/ Meeuwsen defeated Austria’s 25th-seeded (eighth-seeded qualification team) Thomas Kunert/Christoph Dressler, 21-16, 21-18 in 41 minutes and in another one for the history books, USA’s fourth-seeded Lucena/Dalhausser held off the formidable charge from Italy’s fifth-seeded Alex Ranghieri/Adrian Carambula, winning in three sets, 21-16, 19-21 and 15-12 in 61 minutes.

The quarterfinal losers were eliminated and leave Puerto Vallarta with official fifth-place finishes and purses of $3,375 per team.

USA;s Dalhausser said after his team’s semifinal win, “Anytime you can make a final on the FIVB World Tour it says something, because this tour is so tough, but we'll play tomorrow our best and hopefully that's good enough to win. We have played four straight, three-set matches and that can wear you down, especially in this heat. We could have easily lost any of the four of them, but fortunately for us, we won them all. The Germans played much better than they did two weeks ago in China, but we paced ourselves, rallied ourselves and got the job done."

Netherland’s Brouwer commented after his team’s semifinal win, “We enjoy playing here in Mexico so much. It’s the perfect combination of relaxing between the matches and going full energy inside the court. It’s been working so far, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow. We have won all six matches here in just two sets which has preserved our energy so we should have full tanks tomorrow to go against the Americans.”

Brouwer’s teammate Meeuwsen said after the semi win, “I think our game plan was mainly in the power of our attack. The German guys are not that tall but they have a really good defense, they’re “handy” and they get really good shots and I think because of our height they never really got the chance to block us.”

The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 330th men’s event since the FIVB began men’s competition in 1987 and the 294th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.

After the season-opening event in Puerto Vallarta, the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, with placement points counting in the FIVB Olympic Rankings for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, continues with the two remaining 2016 FIVB World Tour events on the 2015 portion of the schedule. The first will be the double-gender $150,000 FIVB Antalya Open in Turkey (Oct. 20-25) and the final event in 2015 will be the men’s only $75,000 FIVB Doha Open in Qatar (Nov. 9-13).


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