2018-09-06 09:00:00 CEST
After a historic, record-breaking season, Anders Mol wants 2019 to be even better… Watch out beach elite…
Ricardo, Emanuel, Dalhausser. They are three beach volleyball greats who have proudly held the title ‘Most Outstanding Player’ – the most prestigious of the end-of-season honors awarded by the FIVB.
This week, a 21-year-old from Norway added his own name to this list of legends after a season this rising star can only describe as “insane”.
That’s probably the last word left in Anders Mol’s vocabulary to describe his disbelief of a season that has seen him and teammate Christian Sørum win the hearts of the fans – and go down beach volleyball history. After winning four successive tournaments, it’s tough to stream new and different superlatives when explaining success.
Twelve months ago, Anders was blown away by winning the FIVB’s Rookie of the Year prize. Fast forward to today and one-quarter of the Beach Volley Vikings team has just walked away with four end-of-season accolades to add to the four gold medals he and Christian took the season by storm with.
“It’s ridiculous,” Anders told beachmajorseries.com. “The last year has gone so fast, it’s crazy. I can’t believe it. It’s a really big honor to be awarded this prize and to see my name alongside some of my idols.”
Among Anders’ heroes is Phil Dalhausser. The 2008 Olympic champion has been named Best Blocker a record seven times and the Most Outstanding three times – including last year.
Instead it’s the Norwegian, who also collected the Best Blocker award, now emulating the people in the sport he looks up to the most.
“I grew up watching many of Norway’s best players at the tournaments in Stavanger,” remembers Anders. “But Dalhausser was a big hero of mine. I tried to take what he did, especially in the blocking, and use it in my own game. I’ve watched a lot of volleyball to see what the best are doing and then using it myself in my own way.
“Watching the best players is inspirational for me. Phil is one of those people, but I’ve never talked to him about it, just watched him a lot. But it would be interesting to talk to him about it.”
As well as Most Outstanding and Best Blocker, Anders collected the Best Offensive and Most Improved Player awards, while Christian was voted Best Defensive.
That’s quite a partnership for a team so fresh to the wonderful world of beach volleyball.
“It’s a dream having Christian behind me in defense,” says Mol. “We’ve found a great tactic between the two of us. I know what I have to do in block and what he’s doing at the back of the court. We recognize the situations we find ourselves in on the sand and we act on what we see. It’s a case of me attempting to stop the hard hits and Christian’s job to take the shots. We’ve worked hard on that tactic and for sure we want to keep improving it.”
On the subject of improvement, the pair are already working on ways in which they hope will help maintain their golden run – and their position as the world’s number one team in 2019.
“Everyone wants to dethrone us and do everything to stop us and we don’t want that to happen,” laughs Anders. “We want to continue dreaming the dream that we have been living these past two months.
“We’ve worked hard, and we’re going to have to work even harder than our opponents and hopefully we can be top again next season. Hearing that other teams are scouting us, and finding ways to beat us, acts as motivation for us to get better.”
So what does the world’s number one team need to do to stay in pole position at the head of the rankings?
“Even though we’ve had an unbelievable season there are plenty of things to work on,” admits Anders. “We’ll spend the next couple of months building for a better physical condition for the next year so we can play in as many tournaments as we can.
“We were not used to that before. We were really tired at times and exhausted at the end of the season. I guess that’s normal but we have a lot to improve in our physical strength – as well as some technical things. This sport is still developing – we’ve taken ourselves to another level and we want improve.
“We’re not done yet and we still have a lot to learn.”
A year’s a long time in volleyball and Anders and Christian are testament to that.
For now, Anders will revel in his success, and still try to get his head around what he’s achieved. Then he’ll bury his head in his laptop and watch those victories back and smile as he plots the downfall of the opposition next year.
And if the last 12 months are anything to go by then the Vikings have every chance to continue living the dream.