VIENNA, Austria – Parts of Vienna received nearly an inch of rain Sunday, but it failed to dampen the mood of Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola, who earned the $60,000 top prize at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships on Sunday in a tightly contested 23-21, 22-20 gold-medal match over Austria’s Alexander Horst and Clemens Doppler.
The inclement weather, which took out the live stream and challenge system for a short period, didn’t seem to have any effect on the energy of an FIVB-estimated 10,000 fans, who packed the arena to support quality volleyball, but especially the home team.
The win gives Brazil back-to-back world titles in an event played every other year. Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt won in 2015 at the Hague. At 22, Loyola is the youngest world champion ever.
“I didn’t know about that before and I’m really happy and emotional about that, but there’s no way that I can talk about this game and this tournament without talking about Evandro too,” Loyola said.
Russia’s Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov filled out the podium by defeating the Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst and Maarten Van Garderen 21-17, 21-17 to win bronze.
Earlier on the island in the Danube River, Goncalves and Loyola advanced with a 21-15, 21-13 defeat of Varenhorst and Garderen in the semifinals, while Doppler and Horst edged Liamin and Krasilnikov 22-20, 21-19, much to the delight of the hometown crowd.
The gold-medal matchup was illustrative of the extreme parity of the men’s tour. Goncalves and Loyola, seeded fourth, had only one previous podium finish this year, earning silver at FIVB Fort Lauderdale back in February. Loyola has only competed full time on the world tour for two years.
Clemens and Doppler, ranked 20th on the world tour, but seeded 12th due to FIVB home-country advantage, had not finished higher than fifth this year.
The 6-foot-10 Goncalves, known as “the Black Mamba,” is one of the most feared servers on the tour for his all-or-nothing approach, frequently scoring aces and errors. In the first set, he immediately put the Austrians on their heels by starting the match with two service winners.
The Austrians are also known as lethal servers, applied pressure of their own, and soon reached their first set point at 20-16. Doppler’s serve fell long, and Goncalves went on a three-point run with an ace and two service winners to tie the score at 20-all.
The Austrians had another set point at 21-20, but a big cross-court Andre swing tied it a 21-21.
Loyola went on to finish the set after a Doppler block and a service winner to give Brazil the set 23-21.
“I’ve always worked really hard on my serving,” Goncalves said through an interpreter. “it’s something I’ve done for a while, nothing new for me, for the last two years I’ve been serving really well on the world tour, and I’m glad that the end of the first set serves changed the set a little bit, but it’s not all about me.
“It’s about my coaching staff, and my partner, who all help me to get better, so it’s not just my serves, it’s my serves and my staff, who all help me with that.”
Horst talked about the disappointment of losing that first set.
“We will remember this first set a long time, because we had three set points in a world championship final, only held every two years.”
The second set was extremely tense, as no team was able to achieve more than a two-point lead the entire set. For that matter, just three points were scored by the serving team. Andre was called for a double-hit to knot things up at 19-19, and Andre scored a stuff block to give Brazil the match at 22-20.
“In the first set when he got those aces, I look at him now and I see a superhero,” Loyola said. “He went to an entirely different level in this game, but I think that throughout this tournament he had the record for aces.”
“Yes, I had a good run serving in the first set, but so did the Austrians,” Goncalves said.
“The mental part of the game was strong for us, especially for Andre. He’s 22 years old, playing his first world championships against 10,000 people on center court. It’s not easy to handle that and he did.
“There are many factors that got us back into the game, but serving and the mental part were the most important.”
For the Austrians, the silver is the first FIVB World Championship medal for their country, made even more special in front of the home fans.
“For us, it’s like a fairy tale because there’s never been an Austrian team winning a medal at the world championships and we reached a final here at home in front of this amazing, crazy crowd,” Horst said.
“Of course, we’ll a little disappointed that we didn’t win, but they deserved it today a little bit more, and for sure it is the biggest success we’ve had in our sports career.”