Men’s final four going for Austrian gold Sunday at FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam
With overflow or nearly full stadium center grandstands from the first whistle in the morning to the final one in the early evening, several thousand cheering fans who appreciated athletes from all countries, the 2014 FIVB World Tour stop is being held in Klagenfurt through Sunday in a spectacular purpose-built venue at picturesque Klagenfurt am Wörthersee. Local event information, including live scoring, match play-by-play and statistics are available at beachvolleyball.at.
FIVB PURSE, TOURNEY TOTALS
The FIVB Klagenfurt A1 Grand Slam is the 308th FIVB men’s tournament since its first event in 1987 and the 272 FIVB women’s tournament since FIVB began women’s competitions in 1992. Gold medal winning teams in each gender in Klagenfurt will split $57,000, silver will receive $43,000, bronze medalists get $32,000 and the fourth place finishers will earn $24,000 of the $800,000 total purse.
Sunday’s final day of men’s competition in Klagenfurt will start in the morning with the semifinal matches followed by the bronze and gold medal matches in the afternoon.
Meeting in the first semifinal at 10 a.m. local time will be Australia’s 21st-seeded Christopher McHugh/Isaac Kapa (4-2 in Klagenfurt) challenging Italy’s seventh-seeded Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo (5-1). Italy leads the series between the two teams, 2-0.
In the second semifinal, Latvia’s fourth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (5-0) will line up against Brazil’s third-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (5-1). The series between the two teams is tied at 1-1 with Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins winning the most recent meeting last week in Long Beach in two sets in the round of 16.
In the first semifinal, Australia’s McHugh/Kapa are playing in their 15th FIVB World Tour event as a team and this will be their first final four placement. Individually, this is McHugh’s 66 FIVB World Tour event where his career best is fifth place while Kapa is playing in his 60 FIVB international event with a best finish of fifth place.
Italian Olympians Nicolai/Lupo are playing in their 37th FIVB World Tour event as a team and this is their 11th final four appearance with two gold medals (both this season), two silver medals, four bronze medals and two fourth-place finishes. Individually Nicolai is in his 65th career FIVB World Tour event and he has two career FIVB World Tour gold medals while Lupo is playing in his 45th FIVB World Tour event and he has two career wins.
In the second semifinal matchup, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins are playing in their their 23rd career FIVB World Tour event and this is their 10th final four appearance and they have four gold medals, three silver, one bronze and one fourth place as a team. Individually, this is the 117th career FIVB World Tour event for Samoilovs and he has four career FIVB gold medals. J. Smedins is playing in his 85th career FIVB World Tour event with five career wins.
Brazil’s Alison/Schmidt is another new pro beach volleyball duo with veteran players. As a team this is just their ninth career FIVB World Tour event and fifth final four with two silver medals, one bronze and one fourth place finish. Individually, this is Alison’s 83rd FIVB World Tour event with 11 career FIVB World Tour gold medals and Schmidt is playing his 85th tournament with two career FIVB World Tour wins.
To the roaring approval of the overflow Klagenfurt stadium center court crowd the men’s quarterfinals started late Saturday afternoon with Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo starting very slow and then coming back in three sets to hold off the upset attempt by USA’s 13th-seeded John Hyden/Tri Bourne, 11-21, 21-14 and 15-11 in a very crowd-pleasing 45 minutes of the highest level of pro beach volleyball.
Playing on a side court, Australia’s McHugh/Kapa continued their stunning run of seed-breakthroughs by upsetting Poland’s second-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek in two sets, 21-18 and 30-28 in 50 minutes. They previously eliminated USA’s top-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal in two sets during Friday’s first round of eliminations.
Quarterfinal action returned to the crowded, very involved center court for the final two quarterfinals where the first one saw Brazil’s Alison/ Schmidt knock out Germany’s sixth-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik in two sets, 21-17, 21-18 in 38 minutes.
In the final stanza of Saturday’s Austrian concert, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins brought a day of countless ovations to a feverish crescendo as the ‘lion king’ and his new teammate J. Smedins, colorfully dispatched Russia’s 11th-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov in two sets, 21-16, 21-18 in 33 minutes.
USA’s Hyden/Bourne (4-2 match record in Klagenfurt), Poland’s Prudel/Fijalek (4-1), Gemany’s Erdmann/Matysik (4-2) and Russia’s Krasilnikov/Semenov (4-1) all leave Klagenfurt with official fifth-place finishes and purses of $17,000 per team.
THEY SAID IT
After his team’s quarterfinal victory, Italy’s Nicolai commented, “Playing against the guys from the USA is always very tough for us. They are great beach volleyball players and it is really hard to block against them. Playing on the Klagenfurt center court at the end of a long day was a real treat—the fans love the game and cheer us on in an incredible way. The only similar experience I have had was at the 2012 London Olympic Games. We came to Klagenfurt wanting to play a really good tournament after having some bad tournaments after winning the first two matches of the year. We want to finish this tournament on a strong note and will do everything possible to get ready for tomorrow.”
Nicolai’s teammate Lupo said, “It is a lot of fun to play on center court in Klagenfurt. I can’t believe the fans made up a new song for me. I love it. In the first set I could not read the USA team’s attacks and defending was really tough for me. Still we managed to get into the match and fight our way to victory.”
Following his team’s quarterfinal win, Brazil’s Schmidt said, “There are no easy games in a FIVB Grand Slam tournament. We had to work for every point—the fans cheering us on definitely helped a lot. Playing on this center court, late in the day with 10,000 fans cheering you on is a unique experience. I love coming to Klagenfurt, it’s the best tournament there is. Tomorrow is a new day, we will make sure to get ready for another hot, long day—we really want to win as much as we can.”
Latvia’s Samoilovs, aka the Lion King for his style of play and his long, shaggy hair, said, “Klagenfurt has been a well-organized tournament from the first time I came here in 2006. Still, every year there is more and more energy on center court. The fans are really special. There are many wonderfully organized tournaments in a beautiful location, but it is the fans that make the difference here in Klagenfurt. The Austrian fans are simply amazing. They are big fans of beach volleyball, no matter who is playing. When the fans enjoy the game, the players enjoy playing more and feed of each other’s energy.
ROUND OF 16 RESULTS
Earning a bye into the second round of single-elimination play, the eight pool winners began Saturday’s schedule by facing the winners of Friday’s first round of elimination matches involving the second and third place teams from the eight, four-team pools that started main draw play Thursday in Klagenfurt.
The first four men’s round of 16 matches Saturday morning saw Poland’s Prudel/ Fijalek enjoyed the overflow Klagenfurt stadium center court by holding their own and coming back from a two-point deficit late in the second set to defeat Germany’s 23rd-seeded Mischa Urbatzka/Markus Bockermann, 21-19, 23-21 in 45 minutes; Australia’s McHugh/Kapa continued their impressive run by beating Kazakhstan’s 26th-seeded qualifier Alexandr Dyachenko/Alexey Sidorenko, 23-21, 21-14 in 39 minutes; USA’s Hyden/Bourne played on a side-court and eliminated Chile’s 28th-seeded qualification team Marco Grimalt/Estaban Grimalt, 21-17, 23-21 in 37 minutes and Italy’s Nicolai/Lupo lined up on a side-court against Netherlands’ 14th-seeded Jon Stiekema/Christiaan Varenhorst, beating the dutch duo in two sets, 21-14, 21-17 in 35 minutes to continue their Klagenfurt run.
In the second half of the men’s round of 16 matches, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins needed just two sets to beat USA’s 16th-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson, 21-19, 21-15 in 40 minutes and Russia’s Krasilnikov/Semenov eliminated Switzerland’s 20th-seeded qualification team Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson in straight sets, 21-17, 21-18 in 39 minutes.
Brazil’s Alison/Schmidt eliminated the final home-country team standing, overcoming the boisterous crowd in two sets over Austria’s ninth-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst, 21-14, 21-19 in 39 minutes and the all-German battle royale saw Germany’s Erdmann/ Matysik hold off German compatriots 17th-seeded Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif, 21-18, 18-21 and 15-12 in 73 minutes.
The losers in the round of 16 were eliminated and leave Klagenfurt with official ninth-place finishes and purses of $11,000 per team.
As the host nation, Austria had three men’s and three women’s teams automatically pre-seeded into the main draw. For the men, the Austrian teams in the main draw were Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst (3-1), Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl (1-2) and Tobias Winter/Lorenz Petutschnig (0-3). Austria’s Huber/Seidl and Winter/Petutschnig were eliminated after the pool play portion of the event while Austria’s Doppler/Horst lost Saturday in the men’s round of 16 to finish in ninth place.