Brazil vs. Europe for Vitória Open men's gold
Reigning FIVB world champions and top-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt are the sentimental favourites to win their first gold medal of the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour season as the Brazilians reside in the area where the international circuit is staging its first event since the 2006 campaign.
• Vitória Open website
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women
Alison and Bruno, who captured six gold medals last season highlighted with the world title at the start of July in the Netherlands and the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals crown at the start of October in the United States, will play 28th-seeded qualifiers and compatriots Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes in the third FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams. Alison and Bruno defeated the younger Brazilians at a stop in the United States last August with Saymon and Guto victorious in the bronze medal match at the Rio Open in September.
OTHER ELITE 8 MATCHES
Other quarterfinals have ninth-seeded Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Italy challenging third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands, 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy meeting 10th-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain and 11th-seeded Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen of Germany playing fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands.
Carambula and Ranghieri are meeting Nummerdor and Varenhorst for the second time on the FIVB World Tour with the Italians prevailing last June in the bronze medal match at the Porec Major in Croatia. The Spaniards are 3-3 against Lupo/Nicolai on the FIVB circuit while Brouwer/Meeuwsen hold a 2-1 edge over the Germans.
The all-Brazilian winner will play either Carambula/Ranghieri or Nummerdor/Varenhorst in one semifinal Saturday evening with the Lupo/Nicolai vs. Gavira/Herrera winner meeting the victor from the Böckermann/Flüggen vs. Brouwer/Meeuwsen match in the other final four match.
Saturday’s schedule will also feature women’s quarter and semifinal matches. The medal matches for both genders will be played Sunday where the winning pairs will split the $11,000 first-place prize along with earning 500 Olympic qualifying points.
Alison and Bruno advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating eighth-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland 2-0 (23-21, 21-19) in 42 minutes while Guto and Saymon posted a 2-1 (15-21, 21-19, 15-12) win in 53 minutes over 18th-seeded Alvaro Filho and Ricardo Santos in an all-Brazilian affair. Alison and Bruno are now 3-0 on the FIVB World Tour against Kantor and Losiak, who captured the gold medal at last week’s Rio Grand Slam of Copacabana.
Carambula and Ranghieri advanced with a 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 15-13) in 46 minutes over 26th-seeded qualifiers Michal Bryl/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland. Nummerdor and Varenhorst defeated 25th-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Sam Pedlow of Canada 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) in 29 minutes to advance to Saturday’s schedule.
Lupo and Nicolai posted a 2-0 (22-20, 24-22) win in 41 minutes over 12th-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros/Juan Virgen of Mexico and Gavira and Herrera scored a 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-7) win in 49 minutes over sixth-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel of Poland. The Spaniards finished 25th last week at the Rio Grand Slam after losing all three of their pool play matches. This week Gavira and Herrera are a perfect 4-0.
Böckermann and Flüggen, who placed second at the Rio Open last September, ousted the 25th-seeded Grimalt cousins (Esteban and Marco) of Chile 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) in 31 minutes to advance to Saturday’s schedule while Brouwer and Meeuwsen were 2-1 (16-21, 21-15, 15-11) elimination winners in 48 minutes over second-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States.
The early season FIVB World Tour swing through Brazil concludes with the Vitória Open after previous stops in Maceio (February 23-28) and on iconic Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13). Following the Vitória Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a two-week break before resuming action for the 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).