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Men moving to single-elimination at FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam

Poland's Mariusz Prudel blocks the kill attempt by Netherlands' Dan Spijkers Friday during Prudel as Grzegorz Fijalek won again to go undefeated in pool play, earning a first-round elimination round bye at the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam in Argentina.

Corrientes, Argentina, May 24, 2013—As the sun started to shine more than in the first two days of the competition, men’s teams at the $440,000 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam double-gender tournament completed pool play early Friday afternoon with their last of three matches. Later Friday afternoon the top 24 teams from the 32-team pool play will advance to the single-elimination bracket and play the first round.

Winning the eight pools and earning a bye in the first elimination round were three teams from Brazil, two from Italy and one each from Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland. With the event being held for the first time in Corrientes, it continues through Sunday at the purpose-built site that is located on the sands of Arazati Beach – Costanera Sur.

The five men’s teams advancing undefeated with 3-0 records in pool play to lead their respective groups were Brazilian duos Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego, Brazil’s Vitor Felipe/Evandro Goncalves, Czech Republic’s Robert Kufa/Jan Hadrava, Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins and Poland’s Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek.

With 2-1 pool marks, the three other men’s pool winners were Brazil’s Bruno Schmidt/Pedro Salgado, Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo and Italian brothers Paolo Ingrosso/Matteo Ingrosso.

Both Brazil’s Felipe/Goncalves and Italy’s Ingrosso brothers advanced to pool play by each winning two qualification tournament matches on Wednesday. While they went from the qualifier to winning their pools, an FIVB record was set that for the first time all eight teams that advanced from the qualifier made it into the elimination rounds of an FIVB Grand Slam.

The lighted stadium court has been built to seat 7,500 spectators. After playing one elimination round today, the men will play three more rounds Saturday with their last matches on Sunday. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on Saturday as well with the men’s semifinals and medal matches closing the tournament on Sunday. Play will start at 9 a.m. Saturday local time and at 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday for the men’s final four matches.

Brazil’s Felipe/Goncalves, who came through Wednesday’s qualification tournament with two wins and are in their rookie season on the FIVB World Tour, had two of the biggest seed breakthroughs on Thursday against higher seeded teams from their own country and Germany and followed that with a third upset Friday morning beating a team from Latvia. The 28th-seeded Brazilians started main draw play Thursday by knocking off 12th-seeded compatriots Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho and defeating Germany’s fifth-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik.

On Friday morning Brazil’s Felipe/Goncalves earned their advancement with a remarkable one hour, eight-minute match where they defeated Latvia’s 21st-seeded Martins Plavins/Janis Peda in three grueling sets, 21-11, 19-21 and 29-27 in the tiebreaker. Winning the longest match in the tournament so far, they remained undefeated in Argentina with a 5-0 record. Their match was the longest in the tournament so far.

To the delight of their home-country fans, two Argentinean men’s teams advanced to the single-elimination rounds with 1-2 record in their respective pools. Advancing to this afternoon’s first round of eliminations are Argentina’s Ian Mehamed/Julian Azaad and Pablo Bianchi/Pablo Suarez. On Thursday, Mehamed/Azaad pulled off a major upset in defeating Germany’s 2012 Olympic gold medalist Julius Brink and his new partner Sebastian Fuchs.

After missing the first two events on the 2013 FIVB calendar because of an injury to Alison, Brazil’s 2011 FIVB World Champions Alison/Emanuel appear to be quickly regaining their talented teamwork as the won three pool play matches in impressive style.  They capped their pool play Friday morning by defeating USA’s Nick Lucena/Bradley Keenan 21-15, 21-15 in just 32 minutes.

Among the other teams advancing undefeated from pool play was Polish Olympians Prudel/Fijalek. With Poland hosting the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in July in Stare Jablonki, more intense focus is on the athletes from Poland as the host country and Prudel/Fijalek have displayed their ability to handle the pressure in Argentina with their three pool play wins.  Winning all three matches so far in two sets each, the earned their first round bye this afternoon by holding off Netherlands’ Daan Spijkers/Christian Varenhorst, 27-25, 21-17 in 46 minutes.

Fijalek commented after this morning’s match, “We are concentrating on next game and trying to find our best game. This year we want to play very good in every event, and our big goal this year is FIVB World Championship which is in Poland.”

The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam will each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place $12,900. The women’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the men’s medal matches on Sunday. The FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam will be the 286th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1989 and the 248th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.

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