Fijalek & Prudel Net Poland’s First FIVB World Tour Gold Medal
The Hague, The Netherlands, July 20, 2014 - The names of Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel are now in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour record book as the Polish pair became the first men’s or women’s from the European country to win a gold medal after upsetting Americans Phil Dalhausser and Sean Rosenthal of the United States in the men’s finale of the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.
Seeded sixth in the event, Fijalek and Prudel won seven-straight matches in the ninth men’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour calendar by posting a 2-1 (21-18, 13-21, 15-13) win in 59 minutes over the top-seeded Americans. With the win, Fijalek and Prudel share the $72,000 first-place prize while Dalhausser and Rosenthal split $52,000.
It was the second win this season for the Poles over Dalhausser and Rosenthal, who were seeking to become the first team since the 2011 FIVB World Tour season to win three-straight tournaments. The Americans had won the last two Grand Slam stops in Norway and Switzerland and entered Sunday’s finale with a 20-match winning streak that ended when the Poles commanded the third and deciding set by scores of 7-4 and 12-8. Behind Dalhausser, the Americans rallied to 12-11, but Fijalek and Prudel sided out the rest of the way to win their first gold medal match in four attempts.
“This is historical win for Poland,” said Fijalek. “Through the years, in The Hague, we got better and finished higher and higher. It's a great step to the world championship next year. There are a lot of fans from Poland, I'm really happy about it and it's a good motivation for us."
When the Americans pulled within a point at 12-11 in the third set, Fijalek said “we called a time out and said to each other: concentrate. It helped and we did it! I can't tell you about our tactics, but we defeated the Americans for the second time this year so we knew how to beat them. In the first set, we had a couple of lucky serves. In the second set the situation was changed and they made two or three aces. But if you have three points up you can win. In the tie-break, we played point by point and in the end we got it. We're going to drink the champagne on our flight to Los Angeles because we don't have time to celebrate in The Netherlands with our Polish fans.”
Prudel was also “happy to win today, it's our first golden medal. We won by only two numbers, but it's the best way. Our level in this tournament is very high and constant. We stayed concentrated until the end. There are very many people from Poland, some friends as well, who live and work here. On the court today, I felt like I was in Poland!"
Dalhausser said the Poles “played very well and had some big points in the third set. They also had three net point serves. Rosenthal also lauded Fijalek and Prudel by saying “they're a great team and we got close a lot of times. They had a few more games than we did. I had a lot of shaky passes and a couple of serves coming over. They played great and they deserved to win today.”
In the All-Brazilian men’s bronze medal match, the eighth-seeded Emanuel and Salgado posted a 2-1 (12-21, 21-16, 15-11) win in 51 minutes over third-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt at The Hague Beach Stadium on Scheveningen beach. With the victory, Emanuel and Salgado shared the $40,000 third-place prize while their compatriots split $30,000.
Earlier Sunday, Brazilians Fernanda Alves and Taiana Lima defeated Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany 2-1 to win the women’s Transavia Grand Slam title. Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta of Brazil captured the bronze medal and with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) in 35 minutes over the third-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic.
This coming week, 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).