Opponents named for Australian World Championships charge
In a touch over two weeks, 192 of the world’s best players will be in Mexico for the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, and amongst them eight Australians vying for glory.
The tournament is returning to Latin America for the first time since Brazil played host in 2003, with the event to be staged at four venues in the Mexican cities of Tlaxcala, Huamantla and Apizaco.
Not only will the teams be vying for a share of $US1,000,000 in prizemoney, this year’s World Champions will also book their place at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Tokyo Olympic silver medallists Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy have been drawn in women’s pool E which will take place in Apizaco. Currently ranked as the number seven pair in the world, the Australians will be up against the teams of Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz (Poland, world rank =23), Liliana Fernández Steiner and Paula Soria Gutiérrez (Spain, #37) and the new Dominican Republic pairing of Bethania Almanza and Julibeth Payano Veras (#184) who qualified by finishing fourth at the North, Central America and Caribbean (NORCECA) Volleyball Confederation qualifier in June.
Artacho del Solar and Clancy’s best result at the World Championships came in 2019 when they won the bronze medal in Hamburg.
For the first time ever, Australia will have three men’s teams at the World Championships, and they earned it by all finishing the qualification period ranked inside the top 25 teams. All pools the Australian men are in are based in the city of Tlaxcala.
Asian Champions Tom Hodges and Zac Schubert are currently ranked tenth in the world and take their place in Pool B alongside Sweden’s world number two pair of David
Åhman and Jonatan Hellvig. The Swedish 21-year-olds are one of the most impressive young teams on the tour, having already won two Elite16 events and the 2022 and 2023 European Championships.
Joining the Australians and Swedes in Pool B are Portugal’s Joao Pedrosa and Hugo Campos (#28) along with Dany Jair Leon Nieves and Marcos JoseTenorio Angulo (#98) from Ecuador.
2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallists Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett (#17) made it as far as the round of 32 in Rome last year and will be looking to advance deeper in the tournament at their second World Championships together.
McHugh and Burnett have been named in a strong Pool H with Italy’s world number seven team Samuele Cottafava and Paolo Nicolai, Spain’s Pablo Herrera Allepuz and Adrián
Gavira Collado (#12) and local favourites Jorge Barajas and Gabriel Cruz Mendoza (Mexico, #125).
Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher were one of the big stories to come out of the 2022 World Championships and they will be looking to make their mark once again. In Rome, Nicolaidis and Carracher topped their pool with an impressive victory over eventual runners-up, Rentato Carvalho and Vitor Felipe (Brazil). They went on to finish in a share of ninth place, their run halted by Brazilian bronze medallists André Stein and George Wanderley.
This time around, Nicolaidis and Carracher (#21) have been grouped with 2013 World Champions and 2016 Olympic bronze medallists Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeusen (Netherlands, #8), Matthew Immers and Steven van de Velde (Netherlands, #24) and Thailand’s Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato (#42) who finished third at June’s Asian Championships behind the Australian gold and silver medallists Hodges/Schubert and McHugh/Burnett.
Pool matches at the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships begin on Friday 6 October with the medals decided on Sunday 15 October.
2023 FIVB BEACH VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Tlaxcala, Apizaco & Huamantla MEX
Friday 6 to Sunday 15 October 2023
AUSTRALIAN POOL MATCHES (all times in AEDT)
Saturday 7 October
7:30am Pool B – Hodges/Schubert v Pedrosa/Campos (POR)
12:00pm Pool H – Herrera/Gavira (ESP) v McHugh/Burnett
Sunday 8 October
8:30am Pool E – Mariafe/Clancy v Almanzar/Payano (DOM)
9:30am Pool J – Immers/van de Velde (NED) v Nicolaidis/Carracher
Monday 9 October
2:00am Pool B – Hodges/Schubert v Leon/Marcos (ECU)
8:30am Pool E – Mariafe/Clancy v Liliana/Paula (ESP)
9:30am Pool J – Brouwer/Meeuwsen (NED) v Nicolaidis/Carracher
1:00pm Pool H – Cottafava/Nicolai (ITA) v McHugh/Burnett
Tuesday 10 October
2:00am Pool E – Mariafe/Clancy v Gruszczynska/Wachowicz (POL)
3:00am Pool B – Åhman/Hellvig (SWE) v Hodges/Schubert
9:30am Pool J – Nicolaidis/Carracher v Pithak/Poravid (THA)
1:00pm Pool H – McHugh/Burnett v Barajas/Cruz (MEX)