Third FIVB gold medal meeting for Brazil vs. Italy
• Vitória Open website
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women
With the Vitória Open being the 336th FIVB World Tour event for men since the start of the international competition in 1987, Sunday’s finale will be the third time the two countries have competed for a gold medal with both teams playing in the finales since the 2014 season where Lupo and Nicolai won in China (Fuzhou) and Alison and Bruno captured the gold medal in Austria (Klagenfurt).
SERIES TIED 3-3
The FIVB World Tour series between the two teams is tied 3-3 with Alison and Bruno winning the last two matches at the end of last season in the United States and at the start of this season in the Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana last week in pool play.
With two Italian pairs in a FIVB World Tour final four for only the second time, the 13th-seeded Lupo and Nicolai advanced to their sixth international final by defeating fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands 2-1 (21-18, 15-21, 15-13) in a 52-minute semi-final match. Earlier Saturday, Lupo and Nicolai posted a 2-1 (19-21, 21-18, 15-10) win in 44 minutes over 10th-seeded Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera of Spain.
Alison and Bruno spoiled the prospects for a first-ever all-Italian finale on the FIVB World Tour as the top-seeded Brazilians posted a 2-0 (21-17, 23-21) win in 41 minutes over ninth-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri. In their quarterfinal match Saturday afternoon, Alison and Bruno eliminated 28th-seeded qualifiers and compatriots Saymon Barbosa and Guto Carvalhaes 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) in 34 minutes.
After his match with the Dutch, Nicolai noted that their opponent is “a very good team. They played two tournaments and got two final fours and we know that so we thinking about our side of the court and tried to do our best. We cannot play at the same level for all the tournaments. Now we are playing good for the second tournament. We are focused to be in the Olympics, we have a lot of points but we are not sure. So we play every tournament and try to get better and better and then we will think about the Olympics.”
When asked about being now 4-0 in the third and deciding set and calling a time out, Nicolai said “we talked about ‘Let’s play. Take one point at a time, don’t think about the points.’ Then we are 4-3 after the timeout so it started another match. I did a block because (Daniele) said to me ‘Block in the middle, don’t think about the other, block in the middle’ and it worked two times.”
When asked if Lupo should be the coach, Nicolai said laughing “he should be the coach and I am the athlete.”
Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB world champions who lost to Lupo and Nicolai 2-1 (13-21, 22-20, 19-17) Thursday in pool play, advanced to the semifinals by eliminating 11th-seeded Markus Böckermann/Lars Flüggen of Germany 2-1 (21-12, 18-21, 15-13) in a 47-minute quarterfinal match. Carambula and Ranghieri gained a spot in the final four with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) win in 36 minutes over third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands.
Saturday’s schedule also featured the women’s semifinal matches where Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca of Brazil and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States defeated teams from Australia and Germany, respectively, to advance to the finals. 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.
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 April 4-8 for the 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).