Alison & Bruno back on top again at home in Vitória
Seeded first and playing before their home crowd with many family members in attendance, Alison and Bruno posted a 2-0 (21-13, 21-18) win in 37 minutes over 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai. It was the seventh FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams with the Brazilians now holding a 4-3 edge. Two of the matches have been for gold medal finals in 2014 with the Italians winning in China (Fuzhou) while Alison and Bruno topped the podium in Austria (Klagenfurt).
For Brazil, it was a two gold medal day on Camburi beach as Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca overcame a slow start to defeat April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings 2-0 (22-20, 21-19) in the 39-minute women's final. With the gold medal sweep, it marked the 54th-time on the FIVB World Tour the South American country occupied both spots on top of the podiums at the same event where men’s and women’s competition was held together.
Both gold medal teams shared the $11,000 first-place prizes while the silver medal finishers split $8,000 each. In the men’s bronze medal match, fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands defeated Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) in 38 minutes. It was the third meeting between the two teams with the Dutch now leading 3-0.
“This is a great day for us to win a gold medal match,” said Bruno after the match. “With Alison being raised here and me now living in the area, we had a lot of family, friends and fans cheering us on this week. It is also a good week for us after finishing a disappointing fifth last week in Rio. As the Rio event was our first event, we just weren’t prepared for the high-level of play from the international teams. This week our performance was much better.”
Sunday’s gold medal was the eighth of the Alison/Bruno partnership in 24 FIVB World Tour events together. At the end of last season, the Brazilian pair won six of their last seven international tournaments with the only negative during the stretch being a fourth-place at last September’s Rio Open on Copacabana.
After their Rio disappointment last September, Alison and Bruno duplicated the same feat that they posted this week by winning the Swatch FIVB World Tour Finals in the United States where the pair split the $100,000 winning purse at the south Florida event in Fort Lauderdale to claim the biggest payday in FIVB history.
“They are great, amazing. They played great today,” said Nicolai after the match. “This finish is important for us. It’s important because we need this type of tournament where we beat good teams. Today they played much better than us. We know that they are a great and next time we’ll try to be better. We have to improve and stay in every point because they put a lot of pressure on every ball so next time we will do this.”
With the early season swing through Brazil concluding with the Vitória Open after previous stops in Maceio (February 23-28) and on iconic Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13), 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).