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Brazil, Italy, Latvia, United States in men’s final four at FIVB Corrientes

Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs exhorts the fans to celebrate as he and Janis Smedins advanced to Sunday's semis after their quarterfinal win Germany's Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif at the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam.

Corrientes, Argentina, May 25, 2013—With the men’s quarterfinals completed Saturday, attention now turns to Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches on the closing day of the $440,000 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam double-gender tournament. On Sunday, the men’s semifinals and medal matches will be held starting at 2:30 p.m. With their quarterfinal victories, advancing to the final four are teams from Brazil, Italy, Latvia and the United States. An FIVB international event is being held for the first time in Corrientes and is being played at the purpose-built site with a 7,500-seat temporary center court stadium that is located on the sands of Arazati Beach – Costanera Sur on the banks of the Rio Parana.

Advancing to meet in Sunday afternoon’s men’s semifinals will be Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins facing Brazil’s Bruno Schmidt/Pedro Salgado and in the second semifinal it will be Italy’s Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo playing USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson.

With a near capacity crowd of nearly 7,500 on the stadium enjoying an international sport they seldom see live, in the quarterfinal matches to determine Sunday’s final four, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins defeated Germany’s Sebastian Dollinger/Stefan Windscheif, 21-9, 21-13 in 31 minutes, Brazil’s Schmidt/Salgado defeated youthful compatriots Vitor Felipe/Evandro Goncalves, 21-10, 21-18 in 38 minutes, Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo battled to a three-set victory over another pair of 2012 Olympians in Poland’s Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek, 21-18, 18-21, 15-11, in 54 minutes and USA’s Gibb/Patterson won in straight sets over Brazil’s Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho, 21-17, 21-13 in 37 minutes.

In their head-to-head competition moving into the Sunday’s semifinals, Brazil’s Schmidt/Salgado has a 1-0 series edge against Latvia’s Somoilovs/J. Smedins with the Brazilians winning at the at this year’s FIVB Fuzhou Open. As a new team, Brazil’s Schmidt/Salgado and USA’s Gibb/Patterson also have not met before.

In looking at their FIVB history, for Brazil’s Schmidt/Salgado, this is their first final four in only their third tournament together, although separately Salgado is playing in his 100th FIVB international event while Schmidt is playing in his 66th career FIVB event.  Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo are playing together in their 19th FIVB tournament while individually it is the 47th for Nicolai and 27th for Lupo. Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins is just their third FIVB event as a team and overall Samoilovs is playing in his 97th FIVB events and J. Smedins is participating in his 65th. As a new team, this is just the third FIVB international tournament for Gibb/Patterson, who won the FIVB Shanghai Grand Slam three weeks ago in just their second event together. Separately, Gibb is playing his 73rd FIVB tournament and Patterson his 12th.

In their head-to-head series, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins is now tied 1-1 with Germany’s Dollinger/Windscheif, while they have practiced and played in Brazil, Saturday was the first FIVB meeting between Brazil’s winning Schmidt/Solgado and compatriots Felipe Goncalves, Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo, who finished fifth at the 2012 London Olympic games, tied the series with Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek, 2-2 and with both being new teams, it was the first meeting between USA’s Gibb/Patterson and Brazil’s Ricardo/Filho.

The losers in the quarterfinal matches will leave Corrientes with official fifth-place finishes at the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam.

After their quarterfinal win, Latvia’s Janis Smedins said, “We are in semifinals and that doesn't happen so we enjoy it a lot. We will play every game tough.”

His teammate Samoilovs commented following the match, “We had played against them this year in Fuzhou at the beginning of the tournament, but we played really bad. This time we were concentrated and did our best. Second set was difficult in the beginning but in the middle of the set we could loosened up and did our best. All the best of the world are here, it is a great venue and there are a lot of people, so it is nice to play in cent court.”.

After Italy’s quarterfinal victory, Nicolai, who finished fifth in the 2012 London Olympics with Lupo, commented, “It's a great moment because we played against a very good team that beat us in the last tournament so we are very happy and we will try to do our best tomorrow.  All the teams want to be the best so it's great we are in the final four. This year we will try to do our best when we are on the court, we know that if we do that, we can get some good results.”

USA’s Gibb, who finished fifth in the London Olympics with his former teammate Sean Rosenthal, related after his team’s victory, “The Brazilians made a few mistakes and that was enough for us. Mistakes happen to all of us on the sand and tonight it was their turn. We still need to clean up a few things in our play, but the important thing is we are improving.”

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 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam is 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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