Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 7, 2016 - It all came down to the third set in an opening Pool C men’s match here Sunday as Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico posted an upset win over Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy in the Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
As the second Mexican men’s team to compete in the Olympic beach volleyball competition with the first being at the Sydney 2000 “Summer” Games, Ontiveros and Virgen posted a 2-1 (14-21, 21-14, 15-11) win in 50 minutes over Lupo and Nicolai. The Italians placed fifth together at the London 2012 Olympics where Lupo and Nicolai eliminated Beijing 2008 gold medal winners Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers of the United States during the competition.
The Italians broke from a 4-4 in the first set to take the lead in winning the set. The Mexicans scored the last seven points of the second set to even the match at 1-1 in the fifth international meeting between the two teams with Lupo and Nicolai winning three of the first three and Ontiveros and Virgen victorious in the last one at the end of May in Moscow.
In the deciding set, the Mexicans jumped to 5-1 and looked in good shape to post the win with a 13-7 lead. Four serves later, Lupo and Nicolai were back in contention at 13-11. But the damage was done earlier in the set with Ontiveros and Virgen scoring the final two points of the match.
Ontiveros and Virgen, who were part of two different Mexican teams that attempted to qualify for London, were the last team to earn a Rio 2016 Olympic berth via the FIVB World Tour. The Mexicans secured their Copacabana beach chairs in the last qualifying event at the start of June in Hamburg, Germany.
Both teams resume Pool C action Tuesday with Ontiveros and Virgen playing Americans Dalhausser and Nick Lucena with Lupo and Nicolai being challenged by African Continental Cup qualifiers Choaib Belhaj and Mohamed Naceur of Tunisia. Ontiveros and Virgen have defeated Dalhausser and Lucena twice in the last month at FIVB World Tour stops Croatia and Switzerland.