05.08.2022 - Vienna, Austria
Start of the hot phase at this year's A1 CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup! After the women's quarter finals started on the previous day, the men also started, today, on Friday. The start into the round of the last eight nations was made in the morning by the clash between Norway and Estonia.
After the surprisingly clear defeat of the favored Vikings in the last group match against Italy, the duos Berntsen/Mol H. and Sorum/Mol A. were challenged against Estonia.
In the match of the second seeded teams between Mathias Berntsen/Hendrik Mol and Kaur Kais/Rasmus Meius both teams started balanced at first. After nice rallies and a strong block by Kais to make it 4:4, the young duo from Estonia gained hope. The first set was an entertaining back and forth in the beginning, which went into a first break with an exciting 11:10 for the Scandinavians. The breather on the hot center court in the Red Bull Beach Arena allowed the favorites from Norway to find their usual strength. After a remarkable block by Bertsen, the two compatriots from the far north pulled away and converted the first set point for a commanding 21:14.
In the second set, the favorite duo wanted to steer the match in their direction right from the start, which they succeeded in doing with a quick 5:2 lead. But the ambitious underdogs from Estonia worked their way back and evened the set at 6:6 after a strong save from Meius in the sand. The Norwegians responded and took a time out, but this time it was the tandem from Estonia that came back stronger. This was followed by the minutes of 20-year-old Kaur Kais, who practically single-handedly put his team ahead by two points for the first time with a worthwhile block and a subsequent ace. The underdog was suddenly fully there and drew the fans in the stands to its side. At 18:14, a decisive third set seemed within reach. But the nerves in the final phase played a trick on the Estonians and the experienced Norwegians worked their way back to equalize at 20:20. After a missed set point for Estonia, it came as it had to come and Berntsen/Mol converted their second match point for a 23:21 victory and 1:0 for Norway in the overall score.
The duel between the two top seeded teams Anders Mol/Christian Sorum and Kusti Nolvak/Mart Tiisaar started similar to the opening match. The Norwegians went ahead, the duo from Estonia followed suit and it went into the break with an even 11:10 for the world champions. Especially with the hard service of Anders Mol, Nolvak and Tiisaar had more and more problems and after the return of the Estonians hit the net twice, the Olympic champions won the first set 21:15.
The favorites from Norway moved towards the semifinals and did not let themselves be distracted from their goal in the second set of the top duel. Although Nolvak/Tiisaar fought their way back to a tie at 12:12, Mol/Sorum then increased their tempo considerably. Estonia tried to keep up, but the Vikings' superiority at the net continued until the end. The second match point at 21:15 secured Norway the 2:0 victory in the overall score against Estonia and thus the first ticket for the semifinals at the A1 CEV BeachVolley Nations Cup 2022.