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Five countries still seeking men’s gold in Maceió

Lombardo Ontiveros (right) of Mexico "dinks" the Mikasa pass Russia's Konstantin Semenov in a quarter-final qualifying victory Friday afternoon.
Maceió, Brazil, February 26, 2016 - Teams from Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Poland and the United States won quarter-final qualifying matches here Friday afternoon where the host country has three teams remaining in the men’s competition at the US$150,000 Maceió Open on the Pajuçara courts in front of the Hotel Enseada.

Brazilian pairs will be in three of Saturday’s opening quarter-final matches against teams from Mexico and Poland while Italy will challenge the United States in the fourth match-up to set the lineup for the late afternoon and early evening semi-finals in the fifth FIVB World Tour event for men on the 2015-2016 international calendar.

The featured quarter-final matches will have top-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg of Brazil being challenged by ninth-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico with second-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States meeting seventh-seeded Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Italy.  All four teams won their only elimination match Friday after capturing pool titles Thursday.

The other two quarter-final matches will have two pool winning teams from Brazil competing against two Polish pairs that had to win two elimination matches each Friday to advance to Saturday’s schedule.  Eleventh-seeded Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho of Brazil will challenge eighth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland (8) with 15th-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland 28th-seeded qualifiers Saymon Barbosa/Gustavo Carvalhaes of Brazil.

The Italy vs. USA match will feature two teams that have won “open” titles at 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour stops.  Dalhausser and Lucena, who topped Carambula and Ranghieri enroute to winning a gold medal in Mexico (Puerto Vallarta) last October, hold a 2-0 edge in the international series between the two teams.  Carambula and Ranghieri’s FIVB gold medal was last October in Antalya, Turkey.

The other two teams in the top-half of the bracket with the Americans and Italians are Vitor/Alvaro and Fijalek/Prudel as the two pairs have never met on the FIVB World Tour.  The Poles will have the edge due to playing in 72 FIVB World Tour events with nine podium placements and one gold medal finish.  The Maceió Open is Vitor and Alvaro’s eighth FIVB World Tour event together.

The second Poland vs. Brazil match on the bottom half of the bracket also features an experienced Polish pair in Kantor and Losiak (47 FIVB World Tour starts together with three medals) against Saymon and Gato with only four international events together.  However, Saymon and Gato placed third at the Rio Open last September in only their third event together.  The two teams have never met on the FIVB World Tour.

Evandro and Pedro will be seeking revenge against Ontiveros and Virgen as the Mexicans upset the Brazilians in pool play at last year’s FIVB World Championships in The Netherlands.  However, Evandro and Pedro rebounded to net the bronze medal in The Hague finale while Ontiveros and Virgen placed ninth in the world championships.

With seven Brazilian teams in the Main Draw, two of the quarter-final qualifying matches were confrontations between two host country teams.  To advance to Saturday’s play, Felipe and Alvaro eliminated 29th-seeded qualifiers Bruno de Paula/Hevaldo Moreira while Evandro and Pedro ousted 31st-seeded qualifier Thiago Santos Barbosa/George Wanderley.

Both qualifying teams posted three-set upsets earlier Friday by eliminating higher-seeded teams from Canada and France.  Bruno and Hevaldo eliminated 10th-seeded Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter of Canada 2-1 (19-21, 25-23, 15-13) in the longest match of the Maceió Open (67) minutes while Thiago and Wanderley outlasted 14th-seeded Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France.

The Maceió Open concludes with the quarter- and semi-final matches for both men and women on Saturday followed by the medal matches Sunday where the gold medal teams will share the $11,000 first-place prize.  Following the Maceió Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a week off before resuming competition March 8-13 on famed Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the first grand slam event on the 2015-2016 international Beach Volleyball calendar with an $800,000 purse.


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