Åhman and Hellvig got revenge against Ehlers and Wickler in the semifinals

The growing rivalry between Norway’s Anders Mol/Christian Sørum and Sweden’s David Åhman/Jonatan Hellvig will have another chapter on Sunday in Mexico, where the Scandinavian rivals will collide for the title of the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Tepic Elite16.

The duel between Norwegians and Swedish will be the last match of the five-day tournament at the Amado Nervo Auditorium and is set to start at 16:30 local time (23:30 UTC), putting the gold medals of the second Elite16 event of the 2023 season in play. The Netherlands’ Stefan Boermans/Yorick De Groot and Germany’s Nils Ehlers/Clemens Wickler will fight for third place three hours earlier.

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The 21-year-old Åhman and Hellvig started the event in Tepic with a loss to Ehlers and Wickler in pool play, but have found their rhythm after that and won five straight matches on their way to the final in Mexico.

On Saturday, the Swedish topped Italian Olympians Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri in two sets (21-16, 21-19) in the quarterfinals and then had the chance of meeting the Germans again in the semifinals, this time coming up with a hard-fought, three-set (21-17, 16-21, 15-12) victory to make it to the final in Tepic.

“They played really well and we had a really hard time trying to stop them,” Åhman reflected. “There were some really long and good rallies and it took us a lot of energy to win. The fans were cheering a lot and that pushed us to keep going. Now we’re going for gold.”


Hellvig hits around Ehlers' block during the semifinals

In order to secure their first Beach Pro Tour gold at the Elite16 level, the Swedish will need to overcome the team that denied them their first two opportunities to do it as it was Mol and Sørum who defeated Åhman and Hellvig in the gold medal matches of both last year’s event in Cape Town and this year’s tournament in Doha.

“It will be our third-straight final against them,” Hellvig remarked. “We’ve lost the first two, so hopefully third time will be the charm for us.”

The overall retrospect of the duel is favorable to the Beach Volley Vikings too, as they won four of the five matches involving the teams so far.


Mol passes during the semifinal match against Boermans and De Groot

One win away from becoming the first team to win six titles on the Beach Pro Tour, the Norwegians had two very different matches on Saturday in Tepic. The Olympic champions were strongly challenged by Czechs Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner in the quarterfinals, walking away with a 2-1 (21-16, 21-23, 15-7) victory, but came back with a strong performance in the semifinals, dominating Boermans and De Groot to a straight-set (21-12, 21-16) win.

“We had some tough matches today,” Sørum commented. “We played some really strong teams and are really happy to be in the final again. We are very grateful for the support we’ve been getting from people from Norway, who are waking up in the middle of the night to watch us play, and also from everyone here in Mexico, it’s been a fantastic tournament.”


Mol and Sørum celebrate with their coaching staff

The Beach Volley Vikings, who are undefeated in 2023 with 17 wins and topped the podium at both the 2022 Beach Pro Tour Finals and the Doha Elite16, are just one win away from securing their fifth gold in their last six events – they also won the Paris and Cape Town Elite16 tournaments in 2022.

“It’s really hard to describe what makes us such a good team,” Mol analysed. “We have a great partnership on the court and are very good friends too and I think that’s a really big reason why we’re successful together. I’m really fortunate to have Christian by my side and am super happy with our last game. There are so many good teams in this event and we’re in the final again. That's amazing.”