MCHUGH AND BURNETT ONE WIN AWAY FROM AGADIR MEDAL

MCHUGH AND BURNETT ONE WIN AWAY FROM AGADIR MEDAL

The Australians survive two tie-breakers to make it to the semifinals in Morocco

The Australians are close to their second medal in a Beach Pro Tour Challenge event

Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett are just one win away from their second medal in the inaugural season of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour after the Australians advanced to the semifinals of this week’s Challenge tournament in Agadir, Morocco.

Seeded ninth in the tournament, the Australians will face Dutch Stefan Boermans and Matthew Immers in the first semifinal of the men’s event on Sunday, at 11.30 local time (10.30 GMT). Set to start one hour later, the other duel will have Swiss Marco Krattiger and Florian Breer facing Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen.

The gold medal match in Agadir will begin at 18.00 local time (17.00 GMT) while the bronze medal match starts at 15.30 (14.30 GMT).

In their first season as partners, the 32-year-old McHugh, a Tokyo Olympian, and the 24-year-old Burnett are coming from a 17th-place finish last week in Espinho, but have been extremely successful in Challenge events, having won silver in Kuşadası and finished fifth in Tlaxcala and Doha.

The Australians have won three of their four matches in Agadir so far and they eliminated three Tokyo Olympians on their way to the semifinals on Saturday. In the Round of 16, McHugh and Burnett defeated Argentinean Olympian Nicolas Capogrosso and his younger brother Tomas in three sets (21-19, 22-24, 15-8).

Later, in the quarterfinals, they knocked top-seeded Italians Adrian Carambula and Enrico Rossi out of the tournament in another three-setter (19-21, 21-15, 19-17).

Their next opponents, Boermans and Immers are the only team to have defeated the Australians so far in Agadir, during pool play, on Friday. The two started the day with a 2-1 (17-21, 23-21, 15-9) win over Americans Miles Evans and Andy Benesh in the Round of 16 and ended it with a sweep (21-18, 23-21) of Türkiye’s Hasan Mermer and Safa Urlu in the quarterfinals.

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Of the four semifinalists, Krattiger and Breer were the only team to have a relatively uneventful day in Agadir. The Swiss won both of their matches in two sets, topping Austrians Alexander Huber and Christoph Dressler 21-19, 21-17 in the Round of 16 and defeating Dutch Leon Luini and Ruben Penninga 21-17, 21-19 in the quarterfinals.

Mol and Berntsen, on the other hand, started the day with a comfortable two-set (21-12, 21-16) Round of 16 victory against French Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat but were strongly challenged by Mexicans Juan Virgen and Miguel Sarabia in the quarterfinals, needing all three sets (19-21, 21-14, 15-10) to secure their spot in the semifinals in Morocco.

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