At the FIVB Cancun Hub 4-star, the first of three events all in the Mexican resort city, top-ranked Anders Mol and Christian Sorum picked up where they left off before the pandemic and won their 11th gold medal, while Brazlians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima won the women’s gold.
Mol and Sorum beat Cherif Samba and Ahmed Tijan of Qatar 21-19, 22-20, Antunes and Lima beat Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan 19-21, 24-22, 15-10.
And there’s little time to rest: The second Cancun Hub event begins Thursday, with country-quota matches Wednesday.
A bad hip kept Mol out for what little there was of the 2020 campaign. When he left the tour, he and partner Sorum had won an astonishing 10 gold, one silver, and one bronze medals in 15 events.
Mol hadn’t played in exactly seventh months, so how would his body respond? Quite well, thank you. Mol and Sorum dropped just three sets on their way to their 11th career title.
Monday Mol and Sorum played classic Volley Viking ball, excelling at all facets of the game, whether first-ball sideout, tough serving, aggressive blocking.
Samba and Tijan? They were athletic enough stay close, but weren’t able to establish a lead. The first set was tight all the way through, right up until Mol won a joust to take the first set.
The second set was tight through 14-all, when Mol and Sorum alternated scoring points, Mol blocking for 15 and 17, Sorum digging and tooling for points at 16 and 18, a four-point lead that was too much for the Qataris.
The high-jumping Qataris have plenty of reason to celebrate their first career 4-star silver and their biggest payday since bronze at the Vienna 5-star in 2018.
The Czech Republic’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner defeated qualifiers Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz-Telsnigg of Austria 21-18, 21-12 to win bronze. The Austrians played tough, physical volleyball, but the Czechs were too consistent and too accurate.
The Czechs broke it open in the second set with a pair of Perusic aces coupled with Schweiner blocks to reach an 18-8 lead. Perusic and Schweiner’s stock is clearly on the rise in 2021, after winning the season-opening 4-star in Doha.
Though qualifiers, Ermacora and Pristauz-Telsnigg will be plenty dangerous in the remaining Cancun Hub events, as witnessed by their third at CEV Moscow and their ninth in Vienna 2019.
The women’s side was all Brazil.
Antunes and Lima are slated to compete with different partners this year, Antunes with Maria Elisa Antonelli and Lima with Hegeile Almeida dos Santos.
The reunion proved to be fortunate, although the reigning world-champion Canadians nearly won it on a match point of their own in the second set before Lima took Humana-Paredes’ cut shot over on one.
The third set was all Brazil, with tough serves putting Canada under pressure. A Lima jump serve ace, a Talita block, a Pavan overpass, a Pavan net on a tight pass, and a Canadian overpass gave Brazil a 9-4 lead that they wouldn’t surrender.
The bronze match saw Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa Brazil win a wild first set over Germans Chantal Laboureur and Cinja Tillmann Germany 37-35, 21-16.
Both teams played exemplary defense. In that epic first set, Lisboa finally made a tomahawk dig of a Laboreur jumbo and buried the resulting line spike to take the first set. Brazil maintain the momentum to win the second.