Bryl

Michal Bryl in action at the net

The Elite16 men’s event in Hamburg culminated in a tie-breaker that lasted 56 rallies before Poland’s Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak claimed their first Elite16 gold on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. The Poles started the competition from Wednesday’s qualifiers and made it all the way to the top of the podium to claim their fourth Beach Pro Tour title overall.

· Watch all main draw matches at the Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Hamburg live and on demand on Volleyball TV.

Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands had to bow out gracefully with the silver medals for their third Elite16 podium, after their second-place finish in Rosarito and bronze in Ostrava.

Clemens Wickler and Nils Ehlers made the home crowd in Hamburg proud by taking the bronze. It was their second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the Kuşadası Challenge bronze in May.

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The men’s podium in Hamburg

In the first set of the gold medal match on Sunday afternoon, the Poles broke away with an 11-5 lead after scoring four points in a row, including an ace by Bryl for 9-5. The Dutch managed to narrow the distance to 19-16 after three consecutive points by Meeuwsen, who then scored another two to deny two Polish set points. In the end, however, Bryl put it away to close the set.

The Dutch, however, had worked up a little bit of a momentum, which they used to storm into the second set on a 4-1 run, which Bryl and Losiak quickly cancelled to tie it back at 5-5. A four-point series for the Netherlands, including two aces in a row by Brouwer and a monster block by Meeuwsen opened a 10-6 gap. The Dutch kept pace through the end of the set and closed it at a five-point margin on another monster block by Meeuwsen.

In the third set, the Polish pair took advantage of two consecutive errors by Meeuwsen to open a two-point gap at 7-5. An ace by Losiak extended it to 12-9. However, Brouwer delivered two break points in a row on his powerful serving to tie it 12-12. Then an epic battle unfolded for that two-point margin needed for the win. The Dutch denied 14 Polish championship points to push the tie-breaker very deep into overtime. At the 15th, Meeuwsen’s spike went out of bounds to end it all at 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 29-27) Poland’s way.

“The entire time we believed that we could finish this game and I am really proud of our team!” Bryl told Volleyball World. “I hope with this experience the next tournament may be easier for us. All is good and Bartosz and I will keep working together...”

“I think we had a very good performance here. We started from the qualifications and played a lot of matches. We are very tired, but when you are winning, you don’t feel the pain,” Losiak added. “I think this partnership was a good change for both of us. It gives me more energy and I am enjoying my time with Michal inside the court.” The two Poles joined forces at the beginning of the year and have since won Beach Pro Tour events in Tlaxcala (Mexico), Doha (Qatar), Espinho (Portugal) and now Hamburg.

Brouwer & Meeuwsen v Bryl & Losiak match highlights

Ehlers and Wickler took on Dutch qualifiers Stefan Boermans and Matthew Immers in the bronze medal match. With Boermans behind the serving line, his team scored five in row to gain a 6-1 lead in the first set. However, they could not hold on to the six-point advantage they had at 14-8. With Ehlers dominating the net with his kill blocks (five in the set), the Germans quickly caught up at 15-15 on a clever tip by Wickler, edging forward with Ehlers’s monster block for 16-15 and Wickler’s ace for 17-15. Boermans reacted with an ace of his own to tie it back at 19-19 and prompt an exciting ending. The set was pushed into overtime before Wickler hit the end line to close it Germany’s way.

Three consecutive points put the Germans at an 8-5 lead in the second set. However, the Dutch levelled it again at 13-13 on an ace by Boermans and took a 14-13 lead on a hit by Immers. Not for long... A two-handed overpass kill by Ehlers put Germany in front again with a 15-14 lead and then he followed up with a monster block for 16-14. The home team never let the opponents take the lead again. Finally, another monster block by Ehlers, his eighth in the match, put an end to the game at 2-0 (23-21, 21-18) in Germany’s favour.

“It was a little hard for us to find our rhythm at first, as they put us under pressure with their serves. Then we fought back and this is how you should do it if you get behind,” Wickler told Volleyball World. “We had a good week, except for yesterday when we didn’t play the way we can, but this happens... You cannot play at 100% in every match. The crowd here at home was amazing, so hopefully we can come back next year.”

“An Elite16 bronze medal sounds amazing and, especially at home, it’s incredible, with friends and family, and all the people supporting us. I am very happy to stand on the podium,” Ehlers added.

Ehlers & Wickler v Boermans & Immers match highlights