The second major event of the beach volleyball season is in the books. As promised, after each major event – “major” is a subjective term I’m keeping subjective so I get to publish new power rankings whenever I deem necessary or relevant – I’ll be releasing new power rankings. This time, with the partner volatility alas settling down on the women’s end, I’ll also have a female power rankings.
1. Alexander Brouwer, Robert Meeuwsen, Netherlands
In my last power rankings, I had Brouwer and Meeuwsen at No. 2, behind Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena. Some wondered why, for they had just taken a fifth in Fort Lauderdale. And then they won in the scorching heat in Doha, again in their home country in straight sets, and once more on our home soil in Huntington Beach in the most loaded field beach volleyball has seen in quite some time.
[podbean resource=”episode=v6x6u-90649d” type=”audio-rectangle” height=”100″ skin=”2″ btn-skin=”109″ share=”1″ fonts=”Helvetica” auto=”0″ download=”0″ rtl=”0″]
2. Phil Dalhausser, Nick Lucena, United States
Some might wonder why Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena are still so high on this list. And to that, I say: It’s one kind of sort of but not really all that rough tournament. It was only two months ago in Fort Lauderdale that Dalhausser and Lucena made the best in the world, aside from Brouwer and Meeuwsen, look like a bunch of JV players.
One tournament with two listless and still narrow losses to a pair of excellent teams with proven track records won’t change that.
Beach volleyball fans have a similar evaluation system, it seems, as basketball fans do for LeBron James: Because they’re so good, and have proven they are the best in the world when they’re playing well, anything shy of a commanding, dominating performance is seen as a massive disappointment.
In reality, it’s a ninth-place finish in a fully loaded tournament, with losses coming to one of the most experienced teams on tour on a gusty day and the other to a hot team with Olympic experience.
I’m sticking with Phil and Nick.
3. Evandro, Andre, Brazil
This team is hot, winning in Brazil and then bruising their way into the finals of Huntington Beach. But they still sort of go as their serving goes. Sometimes it’s phenomenal, as it was for their first five matches of Huntington Beach. Sometimes it’s awful, as it was in the gold medal match, in which they missed somewhere around 40 percent, and the ones they did get in were subsequently buried by Brouwer and Meeuwsen.
As of right now, though? They’re serving well, siding out better, and are one of the most formidable teams in the world.
4. Paolo Nicolai, Daniele Lupo, Italy
I finally, finally, finally figured out who Lupo reminds me of! Russell Brand! I was watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall – a fine film, by the way – this weekend and I just started busting out laughing because I’ve been trying to figure this out since watching Lupo in the 2016 Olympics.
Anyway, this has nothing to do with volleyball, but henceforth, on this site, this team will be known as Nicolai and Aldous Snow.
5. Viacheslav Krasilnikov, Nikita Liamin, Russia
What a weird weekend for the Russians. In the wake of a silver medal in China, they took a bye in the first round of Huntington – and promptly lost to Argentina, which preceded a win by forfeit, a narrow victory over Netherlands’ No. 2 team and a three-set loss to Latvia’s Edgars Tocs and Martins Plavins.
When they’re at their best, they can beat anybody in the world. And when they’re not, they can have duds like this past weekend.
6. Pablo Herrera, Adrian Gavira, Spain
I’ve been watching a lot of the NBA lately, so I’m going to make another NBA comparison here: These guys are the Boston Celtics of beach volleyball. You watch the Celtics play, and you leave wondering why they’re so good. Without Kyrie Irving, they don’t do anything spectacular. They’re not making SportsCenter Top 10 plays. They’re kinda boring, honestly.
And they just keep winning.
That’s Herrera and Gavira. They don’t have the best serves. They don’t bounce balls. They don’t run a fancy offense. They don’t really draw big crowds.
They just get the job done, with four top-10s on the year and now a bronze in Huntington Beach.
7. Piotr Kantor, Bartosz Losiak, Poland
They didn’t medal in Huntington Beach, and I have them higher than several teams that finished higher than them this weekend. That’s fine. Every tournament these two enter, they’re a medal contender, if not a favorite. They’ve played in five tournaments this year, took a silver at The Hague, made a pair of quarterfinals and lost in a bronze medal match in Xiamen.
One ninth in a stacked tournament, with a three-set loss to the bronze medalists and a three-set loss to the gold medalists, is not nearly enough to knock them too far down.
8. Aleksandrs Samoilovs, Janis Smedins, Latvia
The conditions this past week were perfect for these two, and by that I mean it was windy. Really windy. Perfect for a team with magnificent ball control who keeps everything – setting, passing, transitions, even jump-serve tosses – low.
They even admitted the wind was how they were able to beat Dalhausser and Lucena, and how they were again in medal contention, though they lost to Spain.
Another tournament, another solid finish for one of the most consistent teams in the world.
9. Oleg Stoyanovskiy, Igor Velichko, Russia
Another hot Russian team with a disappointing weekend in Huntington Beach. After taking silver in Doha and first in China, they opened the weekend with a loss to Italians Marco Caminati and Enrico Rossi, sentencing them to a miles-long gauntlet that was the contenders bracket.
They managed to win two, but the same Argentinian team that knocked off their compatriots did them in as well, pushing them to 17th.
10. Martins Plavins, Edgars Tocs, Latvia
Just watching these guys, I have to wonder: Why are they always so mad at each other? They have the oddest body language I’ve ever seen – even when they’re winning, one weird play seems to send them into marriage counseling.
Either way: They’re playing fine volleyball, with a gold, silver and a number of quality wins in Huntington Beach.
First five out:
Alison, Bruno, Brazil
Pedro, George, Brazil
John Hyden, Theo Brunner, United States
Marco Caminati, Alex Ranghieri/Enrico Rossi
Vitor, Guto, Brazil