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Men’s field reduced to 24 for FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open final rounds

Latvia's Aleksandrs Samoilovs jump serves the Mikasa as he and teammate Janis Smedins are one of six undefeated teams who won their pools Thursday to advance to Friday's Round of 16 in Mexico at the 2014 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open on Playa Camarones.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, May 8, 2014 — Teams from Australia, Brazil, Chile, Germany, Italy, Latvia, host nation Mexico and USA won their respective pools Thursday as the field has been reduced to 24 from the 32-team men’s main draw for Friday’s start of single-elimination rounds at the double-gender US$150,000 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open, the third event on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.  

Each receiving a bye into the round of 16, the eight men’s pool winners who emerged from Thursday’s last of three pool play matches were: Mexico’s top-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen, Latvia’s second-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, Chile’s fourth-seeded cousins Marco Grimalt/Esteban Grimalt, Germany’s eighth-seeded Eric Koreng/Finn Dittelbach, USA’s 11th-seeded John Hyden/Tri Bourne, Italy’s 14th-seeded brothers Paolo Ingrosso/Matteo Ingrosso, Brazil’s 26th-seeded qualifying team Thiago Santos/Marcio Araujo and Australia’s 28th-seeded Sam Boehm/Cole Durant.

The 24 men’s teams who advanced from pool play from the 32-team main draw will now move into Friday’s start of single-elimination play on the picturesque purpose-built complex on Playa Camarones.

Friday’s men’s schedule will see the first elimination round featuring the second and third-place finishers in each pool, the round of 16 and then ending the day will be the quarterfinal matches. Also on Friday, the women play their third and final pool play match on the four sand competition courts to determine which teams advance to the final 24 in the women’s event.

With intense competition resulting in 15 three-set matches out of the 48 pool play matches, the six teams who won their respective pools with unblemished 3-0 records were: Mexico’s Ontiveros/Virgen, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins, Chile’s M. Grimalt/ E. Grimalt, USA’s Hyden/Bourne, Italy’s P. Ingrosso/M. Ingrosso and Brazil’s Thiago/Marcio.

Australia’s Boehm/Durant and Germany’s Koreng/Dittelbach won their respective pools each with a 2-1 earned their respective byes via tiebreaker as Australia had a three-way tie in their pool and Germany had a two-way tie.

The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 300th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 263rd FIVB women’s tournament since each started play in 1992.

The second of 10 FIVB Open events in 2014, the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open has men’s action running from Tuesday through Saturday and women’s competition running from Wednesday through Sunday. The tournament format has a one-day qualification tournament in to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play and a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams. The men’s semifinals and medal matches will be held Saturday while the women’s semis and medal matches will be played on Sunday at the purpose-built stadium at Puerto Vallarta’s Playa Camarones.

To the cheers of home country fans, Mexico’s top-seeded Ontiveros/ Virgen ended pool play with a 3-0 record Thursday by defeating 16th-seeded Sam Pedlow/Grant O’Gorman on the Playa Camarones stadium court in two sets, 21-13, 21-17 in 38 minutes.

Very happy to win all three pool play matches in their home country, Ontiveros said after his team’s win on Thursday, “We were excited and nervous at the beginning today but we know how we play and we knew that we had the skills to win the match. We tried to do our best against the Canadians and I think the people saw it and they are proud of what we did in the match. By winning the pool, the most we will have to play tomorrow is twice and I hope we play both.”

Speaking more about Thursday’s match with Canada, Virgen commented, “The match was a difficult one because Canada has brought high level teams and this one isn’t the exception. I think we coordinated well so we could block and be in position the right way to get a good set so either of us could hit. They have a good game and they block very well. .”

Playing in his first FIVB World Tour event in more than a year, Brazil’s legendary Marcio Araujo, 40, and his new, much younger teammate Thiago Santos swept through their pool with a 3-0 record, capping it Thursday by defeating Venezuela’s 23rd-seeded Jackson Henriquez/Leonard Colina in straight sets, 21-15, 21-16 in 37 minutes. Marcio, an Olympian who has played 18 years on the FIVB World Tour in 160 tournaments and has 20 gold medals, and Thiago, advanced from the qualifier with a three-set win on Tuesday in 73 minutes over  a team from Austria and won all three of their pool play matches in two sets to move to the Round of 16 on Friday.

Reflected the effervescent Marcio following his victory in Thursday’s final pool play match, “I am having a great time. Most of the players are almost half my age and here we are 4-0 going into the Round of 16 in our first FIVB World Tour event as a team. Thiago is starting to relax with me more and we basically broke this tournament up into four parts: qualifying, pool play, single elimination and the final four. So far we have handled the first two very well and look forward to handling the rest just as well.”

As the host nation, Mexico had three teams in each gender pre-seeded into the main draw. Besides the undefeated Virgen/Ontiveros, the two other home-country teams lost all three of their pool play matches and have been eliminated for the tournament-No. 30 Ricardo Galindo/Aldo Miramontes and No. 31 Juan Revuelta/Miguel Cardenas.

The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.

The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) international tour is back in Mexico for the first time since 2006 for its first event in Puerto Vallarta being held on Playa Camarones adjacent to the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center. The FIVB World Tour has had eight previous tour stops in Mexico. Acapulco hosted double-gender events in 1999, 2005 and 2006 and Rosarito hosted one double-gender tour stop in 2000.

Mexico is also hosting the Inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships this year in Acapulco (July 15-20).

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries.  This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 10 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.

The 10 FIVB Open tournaments in 2014, seven double-gender, two men only and two women only, have $150,000 total purses for the double gender events and $75,000 for the single-gender competitions.

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