Australia’s Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh have gone within a point of scoring a major upset at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, but will head home having to settle for ninth position.
McHugh and Schumann, playing in their first season together, held a match point at 14-13 in the third set against Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, before eventually losing 16-14.
It had been a remarkable comeback for the Australians after they were completely outplayed 21-14 in the opening set.
But the Australians steadied in the second set, playing in front of a packed Vienna Stadium, to level the match 21-19. They conceded the lead in the set only once, and looked to be coping with the hot conditions better than their much older opponents.
McHugh and Schumann held the lead for large sections of the final set, but it was the experience of former Olympic gold medallist and World Champion, Dalhausser, which made the final difference.
“When we play our game, we can compete against anybody,” McHugh said.
“This one hurts. A lot. It is the end of our season, so we will prepare for next season. It is our first season, so we will keep improving."
While McHugh has been a regular on the World tour in the past five years, Schumann has been enjoying his first full season, and admits nerves got to him early in Friday’s match.
“I was a bit shaky early, I suppose a bit overwhelmed with the stadium and the situation,” Schumann said.
“But it was good to show that when we bring out best game that we can compete with those guys, the best teams in the world. Because I’m so small everyone is pretty big and intimidating.”