World Tour Continues Searching For The Answer to Anders Mol and Christian Sorum
Photo credit: FIVB
Every visible stone has been turned. Under them all is the same result, a note with a mocking, chuckling question: Did you really expect to stop Anders Mol and Christian Sorum?
It’s early in the Olympic race, and still less than a year since these Norwegians began their rule over the beach volleyball world. And yet everything has been tried. Teams have tried spreading, and spreading, and spreading the court some more, as Latvians Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs did in the finals of a CEV last July. It worked until it didn’t, as Mol and Sorum, after trailing early, peeled off point after point, all the way to a 21-17, 21-13 gold medal.
Teams have tried adjusting their sets, pulling them four, five, six feet off the net. Best to neutralize the block of the 21-year-old Mol, named the FIVB’s Best Blocker in 2018. That worked, too, until it didn’t, as Tri Bourne and Trevor Crabb couldn’t sustain their offensive output, and Mol and Sorum won a pair of sets, 21-15, to advance to the gold medal match in Jinjiang, China.
Teams have tried bombing away from the service line. Ace or error. No sense in controlling it when you’re playing the best side out team in the world. That worked, too, until it didn’t. Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Schmidt even snuck a set off Mol and Sorum in the gold medal match in Jinjiang, behind the howitzer hanging off Goncalves’ shoulder.
He does that to everyone, Goncalves, though the difference here is that, when his serve is off, as it oftentimes can be, he and Bruno are good enough to beat most any other team on the planet. Mol and Sorum simply aren’t every other team. After Evandro served Brazil to a 21-14 first set win, Mol and Sorum won 36 of the next 29 points. Evandro’s serving was excellent in those last two sets, too. But it wasn’t perfect. And at this point in Mol’s and Sorum’s absurd run over the world tour, perfect, it seems, is what’s required.
Teams have, as of Sunday’s final in Ostrava, even begun serving Mol, the FIVB’s Best Offensive Player from a year ago. For so long, the strategy has been the same: Serve Sorum, serve Sorum, serve Sorum. All it’s done is made Sorum the most consistent offensive player in the game, one of the best passers, with a tremendous hard angle swing supplemented just enough by a sharp line that keeps the blocker honest. So to Mol Czech’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner went in the finals in Ostrava, and for a while, that worked, too, until it didn’t. Like Evandro and Bruno, they were able to slip a set off Mol and Sorum, 17-21 in the first.
And then the ephemerality of any strategy proposed against these Norwegians showed, as Mol and Sorum, again, won the final two sets to, again, win gold, their third in a row and fourth in six events in 2019.
So continue turning the stones, world tour. Keep searching for the means to beat these two. This year, they have played 32 matches and won twice as many gold medals as they have suffered losses. Indeed, only Russians Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Spanish Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera have managed to win a full match against Norway this year.
The latter came 19 matches and more than a month ago.
While everyone else looks for answers, Norway, for now, will continue finding gold.
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