Halifax, Canada, September 4, 2011 – Shining as bright as the Canadian sunshine glistening of the Halifax Harbor water and the shimmering sands of the SEA center court stadium Sunday, Ukraine’s Sergiy Popov/Valeriy Samoday overcame Poland’s Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak to earn the men’s gold medal at the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships the 11th annual double-gender event for players under 21.
Earning the men’s bronze medal was Brazil’s Marcus Carvalhaes/Vitor Felipe.
The world’s best young adult men’s teams competed on the SEA complex at the 11th annual double-gender event for players under 21 that concluded Sunday afternoon as the world championship event was held at the purpose-built beach volleyball complex on the Salter Lot of the Halifax Waterfront alongside the picturesque Halifax Harbor, the second largest natural harbor in the world.
This year’s was held in Halifax, a regional municipality of over 300,000 residents located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada. It was the first time that this event was held in North America. The medal matches for each gender were played on Sunday before another sold-out crowd on the SEA center court stadium. Gathered in Halifax for this year’s event were 59 teams (28 men and 31 women) from 24 countries.
In the Halifax men’s gold medal match Ukraine’s 20th-seeded Sergiy Popov/Valeriy Samoday were pushed to three tough sets before finally defeating Poland’s ninth-seeded Kantor/Losiak, 22-20, 19-21 and 15-12 in the 55-minute finale.
In the bronze medal match Brazil’s second-seeded Carvalhaes/Felipe came from behind and then held off a late charge to defeat Canada’s top-seeded Dany Demyanenko/Garrett May, 21-23, 21-14 and 15-13 in 54 minutes.
In Sunday afternoon’s medal matches, held under stunning blue skies reflecting even more of the glorious sunshine that has bathed the SEA complex this week in Halifax, the competition in the SEA center court stadium, which was filled to overflowing with over 2,000 enthusiastic fans, was as intense as the blazing Canadian sun.
Ukraine won its first gold medal and made its first men’s final four appearance in the 11-year history of this event. Poland won its second men’s silver medal, its fourth medal and also had its fourth men’s team in the final four of the FIVB Swatch Junior World Championships.
Ukraine’s Popov/Samoday left Halifax with an undefeated 7-0 record while Poland’s Kantor/Losiak finished 6-1 in this tournament. Both teams have won FIVB Swatch Youth World Championships as well for players under 19, Ukraine’s Popov/Samoday in 2009 in Alanya, Turkey and Poland’s Kantor/Losiak in 2010 in Porto, Portugal.
Canada had a team in the men’s final four of this event for the second straight year as May and Sam Schachter won the gold last year in Alanya, Turkey. Brazil had a men’s team in the final four for an event-record ninth time and this marked Brazil’s tournament high eighth medal (3 gold, 3 silver and two bronze).
In the tight gold medal match, the two talented teams battled point-for-point for the appreciative throng at center court. In the first set, Ukraine’s Popov/Samoday finally outlasted Poland’s Kantor/Losiak in overtime. In the second set, Poland fired back and held a close margin throughout and finally closed it on another Kantor kill.
In the deciding tiebreaker set, Ukraine jumped out 2-0 courtesy of two hitting errors by Poland and just went the crowd thought the match had swung in favor of Ukraine’s Popov/Samoday, Poland’s Kantor/Losiak struck back again with blocks, aces and good all around play, tying the set at 11-11 which prompted Ukraine to call a time out. After the time out, Poland took athe lead on a Kantor block, but then scored the final four points with the match and championship finally decided on another Samoday kill.
“It’s very difficult to play against Poland they are such a good team, but we held on and what a way to end our career in FIVB junior events,” Samoday said after his team’s gold medal triumph. “Sergiy helped me so much today as my left ankle has been hurting so bad. We expected to win this tournament because we have so much confidence in our ability as a team, but I can’t think of a better way or a better place for it to happen than here in Halifax. We are celebrating for our country and now we hope we can move up to the FIVB Swatch World Tour next year. The scores of the sets and how they were played today shows how equal we are as a team with Kantor and Losiak. But we have the gold medals.”
In the bronze medal match, Canada’s Demayenko/May battled point for point with Brazil’s Carvalhaes/Felipe in the first set before sealing it with the final two overtime points. In the second set, the Brazilians surged ahead and kept the Canadians at bay until the end. In the tiebreaker, Brazil jumped out ahead early and although the set was tied only once, Demayenko/May valiantly stayed in the match, closing a four-point gap to two several times, including near the end when Carvalhaes had moved to 14-11. After a Demayenko kill and a may kill closed the match to 13-14, Carvalhaes ended it with a titanic block at the Swatch net.
Brazil’s Carvalhaes/Felipe end their stay in Halifax with a 5-2 record while Canada’s Demyanenko/May finish a 4-3 record in Halifax. It was also Felipe’s third consecutive medal in the FIVB Swatch Junior World Championships, have won a silver medal with Alvaro Filho in both 2009 in Blackpool, Great Britain and 2010 in Alanya, Turkey.
“I was very, very unhappy yesterday after our semifinal loss,” said Felipe. “During the night last night I remembered how important every match is and representing Brazil here and getting a medal was very important for me, even if it wasn’t the color I really wanted. Three years in this great tournament and I have three medals so I feel very, very fortunate and look forward to playing in the future on the FIVB Swatch World Tour with Alvaro.”
The gold medal team in each gender will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the respective organizers with wild cards and free transportation to take part in the main draw of a FIVB Swatch World Tour event in 2011 or 2012. A total of 2,000 tons of special sand were transported by truck to the SEA complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue, which includes the 2,000-seat featured SEA center court.
An IMG television crew was also on-site to produce special segments for both genders to air internationally on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour highlight shows to air later this fall.
A founding province of Canada, Nova Scotia is nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, and is known for its high tides, lobster, fish, blueberries and apples. Halifax was the site of the first British town in Canada, founded in 1749. Since then, the area has evolved to be home for charming fishing villages, farming communities and Atlantic Canada's largest city. Halifax, the gateway to Atlantic Canada, has flourished as a prominent port city. Halifax was founded in 1749 by Governor Edward Cornwallis and 2,500 settlers to act as a naval and army base to protect the area, creating Canada’s first permanent British town on the world’s second-largest natural harbor. The peninsula, which Halifax is located on, is 4.5 miles wide and two miles long.
Produced by Canada’s Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEA) in association with the Canadian Volleyball Federation and under the sanction of the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), more event information is available at www.fivb.org or www.sandjamhalifax.ca. The event also had a special Nova Scotia web cam link showing the entire venue at www.novascotiawebcams.com/halifax/sands-at-salter.html.