Polish Pairs Partying
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 11, 2016 - Two men’s teams from Poland joined their female counterparts in securing quarter-final berths here Friday in the US$800,000 Rio Grand Slam as the European country continues to make a name for itself on the FIVB World Tour.
With the Rio Grand Slam being played on iconic Copacabana where the world’s best Beach Volleyball players will return in August for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Polish teams of 15th-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and 23rd-seeded qualifiers Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor used their “bye” to the second round of elimination Friday to oust teams from Mexico and Turkey, respectively.
Earlier Friday, the Polish women’s team of 12th-seeded Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska also took advantage of the “bye” earned by winning their pools Thursday to advance to the quarter-finals where they will play third-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada.
While the women are more expressive about their triumphs on the Beach Volleyball sands of the world, the men use their actions on the court to make a statement. After coming back from an 11-8 deficit in the third and deciding set against 28th-seeded qualifiers Murat Giginoglu and Volkan Gogtepe of Turkey, the 24-year old Kantor could only say “we play to win. We just play, play, play. I am exhausted and need to cool off. We don’t like to lose, so we just play, play, play.”
SEEKING A THIRD TIME
The Polish men are now in position to advance two pairs to a FIVB World Tour semi-final for only the third-time since the start of the international circuit in 1987. Before Losiak and Kantor posted a 2-1 (21-18, 13-21, 16-14) win in 53 minutes to eliminate 23rd-seeded qualifiers Murat Giginoglu/Volkan Gogtepe of Turkey, Fijalek and Prudel scored a 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) victory in 50 minutes over 17th-seeded Juan Virgen/Lombardo Ontiveros of Mexico.
Losiak and Kantor have been part of the Polish twosomes in FIVB “final fours”. The pair was second in the Norwegian Major last June in Stavanger before finishing third three weeks ago on Kish Island in Iran. Fijalek and Prudel were third at the Norwegian Major and Michal Kadziola and Jakub Szalankiewicz were fourth on Kish Island.
“It is great that we are having success,” said Kantor, who is currently ranked 13th with Losiak on the Rio 2016 Olympic qualifying list. London 2012 Olympians Fijalek and Prudel are ninth. “Our goal is to reach Rio in August.”
Both Polish quarter-finalists have improved their Olympic ranking point total this week. While the Rio Grand Slam is Fijalek and Prudel’s 12th event to satisfy the participation requirement with at least 480 points added to their total, Losiak and Kantor have currently improved their point total by 240 points entering play Saturday.
With the men’s and women’s quarter- and semi-finals being played Saturday on the seaside courts, the medal matches are scheduled for Sunday morning. The winning teams in both the men’s and women’s gold medal match will share the $57,000 first-place prizes. The silver medal teams will spit $43,000.
The Rio Grand Slam is the third of five Olympic qualifying events being staged in the South American country with the final two tournaments being next week in Vitoria (March 15-20) and at Fortaleza (April 26-May 1). The Rio Grand Slam is the fourth event on the women’s FIVB World Tour calendar for the 2015-2016 season.