Two USA duos along with Germany, Poland win quarterfinals Friday in Long Beach
With the event being held for the second straight year in Long Beach, Calif., the purpose-built event site is located on the sands of the Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive. General admission is free to the event and VIP tickets are on sale through the event website at www.wsobv.com. Saturday’s schedule will also include the women’s quarterfinals and semifinals as the field has been reduced from 32-main draw teams for both genders. The bronze medal and gold medal matches will be held on Sunday.
With two home-country teams in the final four, the lineups for Saturday’s semifinals will see Poland’s second-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek meet USA’s 25th-seeded Todd Rogers/Theodore Brunner followed by Germany’s 16th-seeded Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif challenge USA’s top-seeded defending Long Beach champions Phil Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal on the Long Beach stadium center court.
Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek have a 5-0 record in the tournament while USA’s Rogers/Brunner are 5-1 and this will be the first meeting between the two teams. This is the second straight week for Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek to be in the final four as the earned their first career FIVB gold medal last week in The Hague and this is their 13th final four appearance in 59 career FIVB World Tour events. A new team this year, this is the fifth FIVB tournament for USA’s Rogers/Brunner and first final four appearance as they started their journey to the final four by winning qualification match Tuesday to earn a spot in the 32-team main draw.
In the other semifinal, USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal, 5-0 in Long Beach have a 3-0 series record against Germany’s Walkenhorst/Windscheif, who have a 5-1 tournament in this event.
Overall, the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a $1,000,000 FIVB Grand Slam is a SoCal beach festival that includes 4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music concerts. The event also includes live or same-day telecasts split between NBC Sports Network, Universal Network and NBC TV Network.
Earning their spots in the final four, Friday’s early evening first two quarterfinals saw USA’s Dalhausser/ Rosenthal win their fourth three-set match in five wins in Long Beach, coming from behind to eliminate Netherland’s 10th-seeded Jon Stiekema/Christiaan Varenhorst, 20-22, 21-17 and 15-13 in 54 minutes and Germany’s Walkenhorst/Windscheif beat Netherlands’ 14th-seeded reigning FIVB World Champions Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen, 21-18, 21-18 in 38 minutes.
In the other two quarterfinals, USA’s Rogers/ Brunner won another three-set upset match, this one over Latvia’s fifth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins, 21-18, 15-21 and 15-13 in 50 minutes and Poland’s Prudel/ Fijalek beat Brazil’s ninth-seeded Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho, 21-19, 23-21 in 46 minutes.
The losers in the quarterfinals were eliminated and leave Long Beach with official ninth-place finishes and purses of $14,000 per team.
ROUND OF 16 RESULTS
In the round of 16 elimination matches held earlier Friday, USA’s Dalhausser/Rosenthal eliminated Brazil’s 15th-seeded Vitor Felipe/Evandro Goncalves, Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek defeated Latvia’s 29th-seeded Martins Plavins/Aleksandrs Solovejs, Latvia’s Samoilovs/Smedins stopped Brazil’s third-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Germany’s Walkenhorst/Windscheif overpowered Italy’s fourth-seeded Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo
In the other four round of 16 matches, Netherland’s Stiekema/Varenhorst upended Spain’s eighth-seeded Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira, Netherlands’ Brouwer/Meeuwsen overturned USA’s 11th-seeded John Hyden/Tri Bourne, Brazil’s ninth-seeded Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho defeated USA’s 12th-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson and USA’s Rogers/ Brunner eliminated Poland’s 22nd-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak.
Every one of the round of 16 matches surprisingly ended in two sets. The losers in the round of 16 are eliminated and leave Long Beach with official 17th-place finishes and purses of $9,000 per team.
Advancing to their first final four in just their fifth FIVB World Tour event as a team, USA’s Olympic gold medalist Rogers, 41, is providing his protégé Brunner, 29, with some very productive on-the-court training. With four of their five wins in three sets, the 25th-seeded American pair first came from behind to win a qualifying tournament match to earn a spot in the main draw. After that, the seed-busters defeated Spain’s eighth-seeded Adrian Gaviar/Pablo Herrera and Brazil’s Ricardo Santos/Alvaro Filho in pool play.
Winning their pool, USA’s Rogers/Brunner then moved to the elimination rounds where they defeated Poland’s 22nd-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak Friday morning before coming back in the afternoon with another stunning win over Latvia’s fifth-seeded Samoilovs/J. Smedins.
USA’s Roger, the ever-reflective mentor, said after the win over Latvia, “Theo and I are really having a great tournament. We have played a lot of three-setters, but that helps us gain more confidence and learn how to play better together as we win them. He is really growing by leaps and bounds and listens well and responds well to constructive suggestions. It has really been enjoyable playing this week at home and the final four is a great bonus.”