Brazil, Netherlands & Poland seeking men’s Rio Grand Slam gold
For the teams of 15th-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and 23rd-seeded qualifiers Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor, it marked the first-time ever that Poland will have semi-finalists in both the men’s and women’s competition at the same FIVB World Tour event.
• Rio Grand Slam website
• Country quota results - Men
• Country quota results - Women
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women
Monika Brzostek/Kinga Kolosinska, who are seeded 12th in the Rio Grand Slam, benefited from a Canadian forfeit in their Saturday morning match to advance to the women’s “final four”. The back-to-back wins by Fijalek/Prudel and Losiak/Kantor also marked the third-time on the FIVB World Tour that two men’s reach the same international “final four”,
With the two Polish men’s team competing in the first semi-final, fifth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands will play fourth-seeded Pedro Solberg/Evandro Goncalves of Brazil in the Saturday’s last match on the Copacabana center court.
“At the moment, this is a great day for Polish Beach Volleyball,” said Losiak after his team’s 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) win in 44 minutes over sixth-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States in a contest featuring the top-two pairs on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour points list.
“We played well and I am thrilled that Grzegorz, Mariusz and the girls will be playing through Sunday,” Losiak offered quickly as the match with the Americans was played in the rain. The win for the Poles avenged a three-set setback to Dalhausser and Lucena two weeks ago in pool play at the Brazilian Open event in Maceio.
“Their offense was the difference in the match,” said Lucena. “We have trouble playing against that style. They played very well and were the better team today.”
Fijalek and Prudel posted a 2-0 win (21-17, 21-13) in in 39 minutes over 24th-seeded Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France.to advance to the semi-finals where they will play their Polish rivals for the fifth-time on the FIVB World Tour. Fijalek and Prudel, who are now 3-1 against the French, lead the international series with their compatriots 4-0 with three pool play wins last season in the United States, Switzerland and Japan.
Losiak and Kantor have now 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.
WORLD CHAMPIONS MEET
Long arms of Robert Meeuwsen (white) ready to block the Mikasa from Brazil's Alison Cerutti
Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB world champions, defeated top-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt 2-0 (27-25, 21-19) in a 45-minute quarter-final match. Alison and Bruno, the 2015 FIVB world champions, had won four of the five previous meetings with the Dutch, including FIVB Grand Slam victories in Moscow and the United States last season.
“It amazing to beat those guys,” said Meeuwsen. “They are a tough team to play, especially here on Copacabana. We just stayed tough throughout the match and did not let the Brazilians gain any type of momentum to get the crowd fired up. It is great to reach the semi-finals in the season’s first Grand Slam, especially where the Olympics will be played.”
LAST BRAZILIAN PAIR
Pedro and Evandro are the “last Brazilian team standing” in the Rio Grand Slam as the Olympic-qualified pair posted a 2-1 (22-20, 19-21, 15-12) quarter-final win in 57 minutes over ninth-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria. Pedro and Evandro, who have a 2-0 mark against the Austrians, defeated Brouwer and Meeuwsen twice last October in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in the United States at Fort Lauderdale.
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.