Sunday’s championship matches are set in Rome for the FIVB’s World Tour Finals, and they won’t include any Americans.
No, the lone USA pair left Saturday, 17th-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, lost 26-24, 21-17 in the semifinals to fifth-seeded Germans Julius Thole and Clemens Wickler and will play second-seeded Norwegians Anders Mol and Christian Sorum for bronze.
“To get on the podium would mean everything,” Gibb said. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been on the podium so I want to get there.”
The other men’s finalists are third-seeded Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovsky, who advanced with an 18-21, 21-18, 15-9 semifinals victory over Mol and Sorum. the Beachvolley Vikings loss is only their fifth loss this year, with six gold medals.
The women’s final pits fourth-seeded Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Lisboa against the 20th-seeded German pair of Margareta Kozuch and 2016 Olympic gold-medalist Laura Ludwig. Ludwig sat out out the 2018 season after having a baby 16 months ago.
In the quarterfinals, Crabb and Gibb ousted 23rd-seeded Spaniards Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera 21-14, 34-32. Against the Germans, they were down 20-12 in the second set before going on a run, but the match ended when Gibb served long.
“I’m bummed,” Gibb said. “I had a swing for the set at 21-20 and I don’t know. My sideout was a little bit off and that was the biggest difference.”
“They just kept the pressure on us,” Crabb said. “They had two really good float serves and we struggled passing and that will always put pressure on your sideout if you can’t pass. They did a great job of putting pressure on us.”
Bednarczuk and Lisboa beat sixth-seeded countrywomen Rebecca Cavalcanti and Ana Patricia Silva 17-21, 21-19, 15-13 in the semis. Kozuch and Ludwig knocked out the 10th-seeded Swiss pair of Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre 24-22, 21-13.
“It’s unbelievable,” the 33-year-old Ludwig told the FIVB. “We really didn’t expect it, especially after starting the tournament with a loss. We’ve been waiting for a good result for such a long time and it’s awesome that it happened here. And it’s nice to see that we’re getting the reward for all the hard work we’ve done all season.”
Click here for the complete women’s results and schedule, courtesy of BVBinfo.com.
And click here for the men’s results and schedule.