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BPT Challenge Torquay Men Gold Medal Game - ITAvsITA-8

Daniele Lupo & Enrico Rossi rejoice upon winning the Torquay Challenge final

Third-seeded Daniele Lupo and Enrico Rossi grabbed the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Torquay Challenge men’s trophy on Sunday, after winning the all-Italian gold medal clash with their previous partners, fourth-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri, and leaving their opponents with silver. As both of the newly reshuffled pairs made their debut appearances on the Beach Pro Tour, all four of these Italian Olympians claimed their first Tour medals.

· Watch replays of all matches at the Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Torquay on Volleyball TV.

Top-seeded Christopher McHugh and Paul Burnett pleased the home crowd in Torquay by snatching the bronze. For 33-year-old Olympian McHugh and his 24-year-old teammate Burnett, who joined forces after the Games in Tokyo last year, it was the second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the silver they took at the Kusadasi Challenge in May.

BPT Challenge Torquay Men Gold Medal Game - ITAvsITA-22

The Torquay Challenge men’s podium

35-year-old Ranghieri served the first ball of the final and scored the first point with a monster block. Then it was Lupo and Rossi who took the next few break points for a three-point lead, but three in row for Carambula and Ranghieri levelled the score at 10-10. 13-13 was the last time the score was level in the first set. A four-point run helped Lupo and Rossi break away again and then they just kept pace to win the set by a four-point margin, with Lupo delivering the last point on an off-the-block spike.

With Ranghieri on the serve and dominating at the net at the same time, his team produced five consecutive points to open a 6-2 gap in the second set, but it did not last long as their rivals caught up swiftly at 9-9. Rossi’s fabulous blocking performance helped his side regain control of the scoreboard and keep the pressure on until Lupo put away the 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) winner with another off-the-block swing.

“I have only one thing to say. Thank you, everybody! It was unbelievable,” 31-year-old Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Lupo said after the match.

“I hope this is just the beginning,” 29-year-old Rossi Rossi added. “It’s a dream – first tournament, first medal, first gold! It was weird for us, because we played against our friends and it was a difficult match. But it was a great match and maybe next week we’ll have another one.”

McHugh and Burnett made their first big break in the bronze medal match against 10th-seeded Portuguese qualifiers Joao Pedrosa and Hugo Campos when they scored four points in a row, including an ace by McHugh, to gain an 8-3 advantage. Another four-point run, again on McHugh’s serving turn, put the Australians at a 13-7 lead, and despite all Portuguese efforts to narrow it down, the home team stayed in front and closed the set their way on Burnett’s block-out shot.

The 22-year-old Europeans kept committing too many unforced errors, but stayed competitive through 14-14 in the second set. At that moment, the Aussies went on a five-point streak and practically decided the match. Burnett was the big hero of the winning rally. After a spectacular save in defence, he stood up to finish the match with another powerful block-out hit for the 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) victory.

“This year we learned that we have what it takes to be able to perform on this stage,” Burnett said after the game. “To come out here and get a bronze today in front of the home crowd is pretty special and we get a lot of confidence from that.”

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