Porec, Croatia, July 3, 2016 - After disappointing finishes the past month in Russia, Germany and Poland, reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil have returned to the top of an international Beach Volleyball podium by winning the gold medal here Sunday at the US$800,000 Porec Major.
With their 2-1 (21-13, 16-21, 15-12) win in the 49-minute gold medal match over 15th-seeded Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst, the Brazilians stymied the Austrian’s effort to win their countries first FIVB World Tour title since the start of internationally-sanctioned events in 1987.
The win ended a gold medal drought for Alison and Bruno, who captured six gold medals during a seven-event stretch last season with only two titles this year in six events. “It is about time,” said Bruno, the FIVB World Tour’s top player in 2015. “We have not been playing that bad with our lowest finish being a fifth. We realize that there is a lot of pressure on us since we will be the top-seeded team in the Olympics along with being the best team on the world tour at the end of last season.”
Playing in their 28th FIVB World Tour event, the Brazilians captured their ninth international gold medal together along with being presented a $57,000 check for finishing first in the second annual Porec Major where Alison and Bruno finished 17th last year.
Enroute to placing on a FIVB podium for the 14th-time together with a 9-4 record in gold medal matches, Alison and Bruno won six of seven Porec matches with a 5-1 record against Rio-bound teams for the 2016 Olympic Games. The win over Doppler and Horst was Alison and Bruno’s seventh in eight FIVB World Tour matches.
Despite finishing second to share the $43,000 silver medal prize, Doppler and Horst posted their best finish on the 2015-2016 world tour calendar after placing 17th in their last four FIVB appearances in Russia (Sochi and Moscow), Germany (Hamburg) and Poland (Olsztyn). In fact, the silver medal was only their third podium placement in 40 FIVB World Tour events since forming their partnership for in 2012 for their successful bid for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We are very pleased with our finish,” said Doppler after the match. “What was pleasing was coming back in the second set against the Brazilians after being dominated by them in the first set. We had our opportunity to win the match, but we made errors when they were making the plays. Overall, what a great feeling to win a silver medal here in Croatia with so many Austrian fans in attendance.”
With all four matches being three-setters with the finale being the longest gold medal match of the season, Doppler and Horst reached the tournament title tilt by posting a 2-1 (17-21, 21-17, 19-17) semi-final win in 51 minutes over sixth-seeded Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton of Canada.
In a rematch of the Olsztyn finale in Poland, Alison and Bruno avenged a gold medal setback to Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins by defeating the fifth-seeded Latvians 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-11) in a 53-minute semi-final confrontation.
Prior to Sunday’s finale before a packed Croatian center court of more than 5,000 fans with more than 500 people waiting outside for an open seat, Saxton and Schalk scored a 2-1 (19-21, 30-28, 20-18) bronze medal win in 61 minutes over Samoilovs and Smedins. The Canadians split $32,000 for their best finish internationally since losing a gold match to Alison and Bruno last July in Japan. The Latvians split $24,000 for fourth-place.
In the women’s finale Saturday, 19th-seeded qualifiers Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude of Germany completed an “impossible mission” by defeating the fourth-seeded Bansley and Pavan 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) win in 38 minutes. The Germans became the 11th women’s team to win a FIVB World Tour gold medal after starting an event in the qualifier before advancing for the “money” rounds.
In the All-German bronze medal match, 10th-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe defeated Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst 2-0 (21-19, 21-23, 15-11) in 51 minutes. Ludwig and Walkenhorst, who had won the last two FIVB World Tour events in Germany (Hamburg) and Poland (Olsztyn) along with the European Championships, entered Saturday’s action with a 19-match winning streak, a 46-4 record this season with four FIVB gold medals to their credit.
The SWATCH Major Series continues with two more stops in Europe starting Tuesday in Gstaad Switzerland and ending in Klagenfurt, Austria (July 26-31). Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the ASISCS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the end of August in the United States at Long Beach will be the final event used to determine the top eight teams for the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals to be played September 13-18 at a site to be determined.