Rio champions to Vitória contenders
That’s the storyline for Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak after the eighth-seeded Polish pair dropped a 2-1 (19-21, 21-14, 16-14) Pool H decision in 50 minutes to ninth-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri of Italy to finish second in their group here Thursday at the $150,000 Vitória Open on Camburi beach.
• Vitória Open website
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women
With the setback, Kantor and Losiak will have to play an extra match if they seek to repeat as gold medal winners on the FIVB World Tour after winning last week’s gold medal at the Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana where the Poles and Italians are likely headed for August’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Carambula, who celebrated his 28th birthday Thursday, and Ranghieri will now need to win only one match Friday to reach Saturday’s quarterfinals while Kantor and Losiak face a mid-day match where they must win to advance to the second round of elimination where they will not meet the Italians.
All three of the Italians’ Vitória Open wins in group action have been three-sets, including a Wednesday victory over 24th-seeded qualifiers Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse of Qatar 2-1 (20-22, 21-16, 15-8) in 49 minutes and Thursday morning over 24th-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Sam Pedlow of Canada 2-1 (21-15, 15-21, 15-11) in 51 minutes.
In defeating Kantor and Losiak, Carambula and Ranghieri lead the international series between the two teams 2-0. The Italians prevailed over the Poles last July at the Gstaad Major in an elimination first round match on the Swiss Alps courts.
Italy's Adrian Carambula surrounded by his Brazilian fan club after he and Alex Ranghieri captured Pool H with two wins Thursday on Camburi beach at the Vitória Open.
“Good tight match and we were able to stay steady against the Poles,” said Ranghieri after he and Carambula threw their uniform tops into a crowd of adoring supporters after the center court match on Camburi beach. “They are a tough team to play and we made the plays at the end to win the match. We had two tough matches today, so we are happy to receive the bye into the second round of elimination.”
The Italians have now won 23 of 29 matches on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour and will be seeking their second international gold medal after topping the podium last October in Turkey. After the Antalya victory, Carambula and Ranghieri have finished fifth, fifth and ninth in their last three FIVB tournaments.
The last two elimination losses were to Brazilian stops the past three weeks in Maceio and Rio de Janeiro to Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, who withdrew late Monday for medical reasons. Dalhausser and Lucena entered the week as the No. 2 team on the FIVB circuit with two gold medals last October at the Mexico Open in Puerto Vallarta
Carambula and Ranghieri were not the only Italian pool winner Thursday as 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai captured all three of their Pool D matches, including a pair of three-set wins Thursday over tandems from Brazil and Netherlands.
Tenth-seeded Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain rebounded from a 25th-place finish last week at the Rio Grand Slam to win Pool G highlighted by a 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) win in 35 minutes over seventh-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Konstantin Semenov of Russia. In their first match Thursday, the Spaniards survived an upset bid by 26th-seeded qualifiers Michal Bryl/Jakub Szalankiewicz with a 2-1 (21-18, 19-21, 15-13) win in 55 minutes over the Polish pair.
Other European continent teams winning groups Thursday were third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands (Pool C) and 11th-seeded Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen of Germany (Pool F). The Dutch won the three-way tie in their pool due to point ratio over pairs from the United States and Brazil. Böckermann and Flüggen posted their third and final win Thursday over sixth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland 2-1 (18-21, 23-21, 15-13) in a 59-minute match.
HOST COUNTRY SUCCESS & DISAPPOINTMENT
Under the lights on the Camburi beach center court Thursday evening, host Brazil won only one of the final three pool matches. Top-seeded Allison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt earned an elimination first-round bye by capturing Pool A with a 3-0 record. The reigning FIVB world champions defeated 16th-seeded Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France 2-0 (21-18, 23-21) in 42 minutes in the final match of the evening.
Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes, who were seeded 28th in the Main Draw after winning qualifying matches Tuesday, tied 12th-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico with 2-1 records in Pool E, but the young Brazilians had a better point ratio (1.150 to 1.014). Saymon and Guto dropped their final group match 2-1 (21-19, 13-21, 18-16) in 42 minutes to 28th-seeded qualifiers Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin of Russia.
In Pool B, 18th-seeded Álvaro Filho/Ricardo Santos dropped a 2-1 (17-21, 25-23, 15-11) decision in 60 minutes to 31st-seeded qualifiers Julian Azaad/Pablo Bianchi of Argentina to fall into a tie with second-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson of the United States with 2-1 records. Despite defeating the Americans Wednesday, Ricardo and Álvaro had a lower point ratio (1.139 to 1.085) to finish second in the group behind Gibb and Patterson.
Following the Vitória Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a two-week break before resuming action April 4-8 men’s-only event in Doha, Qatar. Before returning to Brazil for the Fortaleza Open at the end of April, two double-gender events will be staged in China at Xiamen (April 12-17) and Fuzhou (April 19-24).