Tuesday, 28 March 2023

International Volleyball

Austria, Brazil, Netherlands revamp federations for La Paz Challenge

Austria, Brazil, Netherlands revamp federations for La Paz Challenge

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. — Of the 38 events played by Robin Seidl and Philipp Waller, it’s a shame it will likely be the last that is recalled most often. Austria’s No. 1 duo since midway through 2018, when they waltzed their way from a 24 seed to a gold medal in Haiyang, China, in their first event together, Waller and Seidl were the undersized superheroes of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour.

Seidl, who competed in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games alongside similarly diminutive Alexander Huber, stands just 6-foot-3, while the 27-year-old Waller is 6-foot-1. They rose as high as No. 12 in the world and, despite the obvious matchup issues, were a consistent thorn in the side of Anders Mol and Christian Sorum, going the full three sets in three of their last six meetings.

Now they’re starting over once more.

A puzzling loss in the final round of the Doha Elite 16 qualifier on February 1, to the Czech Republic’s Jan Dumek and Jiri Sedlak, marked the final match for Waller and Seidl. Last week, prior to the release of the La Paz Challenge entry list, the Austrian federation presented its entirely new look, with Waller teaming up alongside Martin Ermacora and Seidl with Moritz Pristauz.

Pristauz and Ermacora had enjoyed moderate success as a team, winning a bronze and silver in a pair of Challenge events and finishing 2022 on consecutive top-10 finishes in Elite 16s in Cape Town and Uberlandia. Seidl and Pristauz are currently seeded 11 in the main draw for La Paz, while Ermacora and Waller are 12.

“I understand that this change might have surprised many people at this time, but it’s what Robin and Moritz wanted,” Austrian national team head coach Martin Olejnak told Volleyball World. “The coaching staff has evaluated the situation and discussed it with the players and I’m very confident that this move will give us new power and I see great potential in both teams.”

Austria isn’t the only federation to receive a makeover prior to Mexico’s string of events, which begin in La Paz on March 16 and end with the Tepic Elite 16 on March 26. Brazil, too, will present almost an entirely new look. The only pair to begin in the main draw for La Paz will be Evandro and Arthur Mariano, who had previously competed with Vinicius and Pedro Salgado, respectively. Vinicius is now defending for Saymon Barbosa, while Salgado had scooped up lefty defender Alvaro Filho, who competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games with Alison Cerutti and…

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