BPT Saquarema - Men Main Draw - BRAvsSUI_09

Evandro and Arthur were the only Brazilians to win their pools in Saquarema

Pool play is now completed in the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Saquarema Challenge and only 16 of the 24 men’s teams that competed at the Campo de Aviação on Friday will be back on Saturday, when the elimination rounds begin in Brazil.

The second day of the main draw in Saquarema will begin at 11:00 local time (14:00 UTC) for the men, with the eight Round of the 16 duels. The teams that advance will return to the sand for the quarterfinals later, with two matches starting at 15:30 local time (16:30 UTC) and the other two beginning two hours later.

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Among the six pool winners in Saquarema were Australians Thomas Hodges and Zachery Schubert. The two got a pair of wins against teams that were in the qualifier to top Pool F, overcoming Portuguese João Pedrosa and Hugo Campos in two sets (21-16, 21-17) and Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Díaz in the tie-breaker (15-21, 21-19, 15-8).

“The level of the Beach Pro Tour has been amazing this year,” Schubert analysed. “It’s an Olympic qualification year, so everyone is playing in every event. It doesn’t matter if you are in the qualifier or in the main draw, every match is tough. And that’s really good for the sport. Beach volleyball is at a really good place and I hope the rest of the world can see that.”

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Hodges and Schubert celebrate after their second victory in Brazil

With at least a ninth-place finish guaranteed in Itapema, the Aussies are in a good position to rebound from frustrating results in the last two tournaments as they finished 21st in the Tepic Elite16 and 19th in the Itapema Challenge.

The results have been very different from the ones the Australians got at the end of the 2022 season, when they had five-straight top-five finishes, including a silver medal won at the Torquay Elite16.

“Last season was a learning year for us,” Hodges commented. “It was our first year as partners and my first season playing internationally. We started competing on Futures and then built our way into the Challenges and had a really exciting result in an Elite16 in Australia. We knew it was going to be hard to start on the same foot again, so it’s all about learning and getting better at every tournament. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, so all we want is to keep putting good performances together and see where it takes us.”

Two-time Olympian and 2017 world champion Evandro Gonçalves and Arthur Lanci were the only home team to win their pools in Saquarema on Friday. The top-seeded Brazilians finished first in Pool A after their straight-set (21-15, 21-19) victory over Swiss Yves Haussener and Quentin Métral.

La Paz Challenge winners Pablo Herrera and Adrián Gavira were the top team in Pool B. The Spanish veterans overcame Austrian Robins Seidl and Moritz Pristauz in the two-set (21-15, 27-25) pool final.

In Pool C, Poles Piotr Kantor and Maciej Rudol finished first after Lithuanians Audrius Knasas and Patrikas Stankevicius had to forfeit the pool final due to an injury. The same happened in Pool E, with Americans Chase Budinger and Miles Evans benefiting from an injury to Italians Daniele Lupo and Enrico Rossi to advance in first place.

Dutch Steven van de Velde and Matthew Immers were the sixth and last pool winners at the Saquarema Challenge – the Europeans overcame Americans Theo Brunner and Trevor Crabb 2-0 (21-14, 21-13) to sit at the top of Pool D.