Latvians Erase Swiss Memories
The Hague, The Netherlands, July 17, 2014 - Despite losing their final pool play match here Thursday in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation, Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins have completely erased their “lost weekend” in the previous FIVB World Tour event in Switzerland.
Samoilovs and Smedins, the 2013 FIVB World Tour champions, placed 25th last week in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad after losing three-straight pool play matches. It was the lowest placement by the Latvian partnership in 20 FIVB World Tour events together with the previous worst finish being a 17th at the 2013 season opener in Fuzhou, China.
“It was just an awful week for us,” said the 29-year old Samoilovs. “The weather was the main factor as we could not play in the cold and damp conditions. Beautiful site and well-organized tournament in Gstaad, but we could not gain any inspiration to play. Days before the event, we had great conditions in Riga to train. Once in the Alps, we just played terrible.”
After opening with Pool D wins over teams from Czech Republic and Austria, the fourth-seeded Samoilovs and Smedins won the first set 21-14 and held a 20-18 second set lead over 13th-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson of the United States. However, the American fortunes turned around with Gibb’s blocking to win the final two sets 22-20 and 15-12 to create a three-way tie in the group.
Samoilovs and Smedins won the tie-breaker due to their point ratio with 20th-seeded Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria second and Gibb and Patterson third. In one of Wednesday’s opening matches, Doppler and Horst defeated the Americans 2-1 (15-21, 21-14 and 15-12) while the Samoilovs and Smedins opened play Thursday with a 2-0 (21-18 and 21-16) over the Austrians.
Although finishing third in the pool, Gibb was excited about winning their final two matches in the group starting with a hard-fought 2-1 (18-21, 21-17 and 15-8) win in 51 minutes over 29th-seeded Jan Dumek and Robert Kufa of the Czech Republic. “We have not been playing well the last four FIVB tournaments,” said the 38-year old Gibb, a two-time American Olympian. “We are just grinding it out right now. We must brush off our setbacks and try to stay positive. Winning two matches like we did today is a real benefit for our confidence. It was a tough pool this week.”
While Gibb and Patterson will be competing in an opening elimination round match Friday on the Scheveningen beach courts, two other American tandems will be awaiting the first-round winners after receiving a “bye” due to topping their pools this week. Both teams have combined to win the last three FIVB World Tour events in Germany, Norway and Switzerland after failing to advance a tandem to the finals in the first five events this season on the international circuit.
Tri Bourne and John Hyden, who started the string of United States successes by topping the podium in Berlin, captured Pool B Thursday with wins over teams from Italy. Phil Dalhausser, the Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medalists and 2007 world champion with Todd Rogers, and Sean Rosenthal topped Pool A with victories Thursday over pairs from Canada and Germany in competition held in Apeldoorn
Dalhausser and Rosenthal, who claimed the gold medals in Stavanger and Gstaad, have now won 17-straight matches this season with their last setback being in an opening elimination match in Berlin where Dutchmen and reigning FIVB world champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen rallied to defeated the Americans in three sets.
Other pool winners Thursday earning “byes” for the opening elimination rounds Friday were third-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, fifth-seeded Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain and sixth-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland, seventh-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany and eighth-seeded Emanuel Rego/Pedro Salgado of Brazil.
In the final two matches Thursday at Scheveningen, host country pairs were vying for the final two “byes” as ninth-seeded Jon Stiekema/Christiaan Varenhorst and 10th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen were playing pairs from Brazil and Germany, respectively, for the leadership in their pools. The reigning FIVB world champions, Brouwer and Meeuwsen dropped a 2-0 (21-14, 21-15) match to Erdmann and Matysik with Stiekema and Varenhorst defeated 2-0 (21-15 and 21-17) by Emanuel and Salgado.
With the Transavia Grand Slam being the ninth men’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour, 24 of the men’s pool play matches were scheduled Thursday on the four sand courts on Scheveningen beach. Two matches each were also set to be played on specialty-made set ups in the Marktplein at Apeldoorn and the Gustav Mahlerplein in Amsterdam.
As a “prelude” to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, the final three days of the Transavia Grand Slam will be staged only at the Scheveningen courts where the medal matches will be played Sunday. The final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.
Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event. The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).