Roi Et, Thailand, November 12, 2023 – Joppe Van Langendonck/Kyan Vercauteren made history for Belgium on Sunday after comeback win in the electrifying showdown against Austrians Timo Hammarberg/Tim Berger to land the unprecedented men’s title in the 2023 FIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships at the packed Center Court in front of the picturesque Roi Et Tower here, as Netherlanders Desy Poiesz/Brecht Piersma avenged Swiss Leona Kernen/Annique Niederhauser, the team they lost in pool play earlier, to capture the women’s world crown.
Since the championships inception in 2001 in Le Lavandou, France, Belgium had never made it to the semifinals in the U21 World Championships no matter what gender. The 20-year-old Van Langendonck and the 19-year-old Vercauteren’s terrific tie-break win 18-21, 21-19, 15-13 on Sunday gave their Thai supporters and the Belgian fans back home watching them compete through live VolleyballWorld YouTube Channel a shared celebration for this remarkable success.
It was a hot Sunday and the weather gods were unkind to keen beach volleyball goers on the final day of the topflight championships. Still, the searing heat and the soaring temperature of 33 degree Celsius in this northeastern province of Thailand failed to dampen the Thai fans’ enthusiastic support and encouragement for their favorite teams.
Against Austrians Hammarberg/Berger, current world No.81 who have already claimed three age-category continental medals in Europe comprising a 2021 U18 bronze, a 2022 U20 gold and a 2023 U20 silver aside from winning their first Beach Pro Tour podium by earning gold at the Mallorca Futures in Spain last month, Van Langendonck/Vercauteren went down in the thrilling opener 18-21, but hit back to win the second set 21-19. The third set became see-saw as both sides played neck and neck to win the set and match.
Levelling at 13-13, the Belgians bagged a set point at 14-13, thanks to Vercauteren’s deceptive drop shot and after that allowed the tough opponents no more comeback opportunity to capture the set 15-13, match and the men’s U21 world title.
It was the Belgians’ exceptional performance with remarkable unbeaten record. Van Langendonck/Vercauteren made a clean sweep in the pool round-robin preliminaries earlier after demolishing Canadians Charles Ellinas/Colin Lash 2-0, Thailand’s Wichaya Wisetkan/Saiphirun Ruairung 2-0 and Ukrainians Vitalii Savvin/Anton Moiseiev 2-1 to top Pool A and automatically went…