By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Sunday, August 6th, in front of 10,000 hostile fans in Vienna, Austria, Brazilian duo Evandro Goncalves and André Loyola (known locally as Evandro and André) stunned hometown favorites Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst to win the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship, 23-21, 22-20.
“It was the biggest experience of my life in a beach volleyball game,” exclaimed André, who is only in his first season partnering with Evandro.
The imposing presence of the 6-foot-11 Evandro loomed large in the match as he brought the Brazil back from the abyss in the first set. With the Austrians appearing well on their way to taking the set, Evandro’s powerful serves saved five match points, spearheading a comeback that saw Brazil take the set and the 1-0 lead.
“It was good to have some serves that changed the game a little bit,” Evandro said after the match.
Although they battled hard, Austria never recovered from squandering that golden opportunity. Brazil played with the lead throughout the second set, cruising to take the match and the championship, 23-21, 22-20.
With the win, the 22-year-old André also made the record books by becoming the youngest ever beach volleyball world champion.
“I didn’t even know about that, it’s a big surprise to me”, said André when told of his record-breaking performance. “Of course I dreamed of being a world champion one day, but it actually surprised me winning the gold medal at such a young age and in the first year of my partnership with Evandro.”
Sunday’s victory was the seventh time Brazil have won gold at the Beach Volleyball World Championships, a bi-annual tournament organized by the sport’s global governing body, the International Federation of Beach Volleyball (FIVB).
The defending 2015 champions, also from Brazil, Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, were upset in the round of 16 by Canadians, Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk.
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships began on July 28th with a total of 96 men’s and women’s teams competing from 40 countries. The women’s championship was captured by Rio 2016 Olympic champions, Germans Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst, who defeated Americans Lauren Fendrick and April Ross for the gold medal.