Gstaad, Switzerland, July 8, 2016 - Teams from Brazil, Latvia, Poland and Switzerland entered play here Friday deadlocked atop in Pool F, and South Americans Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg exited as the group leader and earned the first-round “bye” for elimination in the US$800,000 Gstaad Major.
The 11th-seeded Brazilians and sixth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins of Latvia were in the best position entering play Friday, but one of the pair was going to finish third in the pool while 22nd-seeded Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland were competing against 27th-seeded Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson of Switzerland to see who would advance as the No. 2 team from the group.
With five of the six matches in the group being three-setters, both of Friday’s contests were extended to the max with Evandro and Pedro Solberg defeating Samoilovs and Smedins 2-1 (21-17, 19-21, 15-11) in 47 minutes and Kadziola and Szalankiewicz posted a 2-1 (16-21, 21-13, 15-12) win in 48 minutes over Gabathuler and Gerson.
The Brazilian/Latvian match was the first-ever FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams and could be a prelude for things to come at next month’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The two Copacabana-bound teams could meet again in pool play in Rio as Evandro and Pedro is the fourth-ranked team for the Olympics and will be the top pair in Pool D.
With the Swiss Alps village hosting the Olympic draw for Beach Volleyball Saturday evening, Samoilovs and Smedins will be in the first draw with tandems from Russia and Spain for group placement in Pool D, E and F among teams ranked No. 7-9 on the qualifying list for the Rio 2016 Summer Games.
While Pool F was the most interesting men’s pool play Friday, 15th-seeded Lombardo Ontiveros and Juan Virgen of Mexico continued their winning ways over North American rivals Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena by posting a 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) win in 33 minutes over the second-seeded Americans in Pool B.
After losing to Dalhausser and Lucena at April’s Fuzhou Open in China, Ontiveros and Virgen have defeated the Americans twice in pool play the past two weeks with a 2-1 (12-21, 27-25, 15-9) win in 49 minutes at the last FIVB World Tour stop in Croatia. With Dalhausser and Lucena being the third-ranked team for the Olympics, Ontiveros and Virgen earned their ticket to Rio in the last qualifying event last month at the smart Major Hamburg.
Other group winners Friday were top-seeded and defending Gstaad Major champion Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil (Pool A), third-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands (Pool C), fourth-seeded Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada (Pool D), fifth-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States (Pool E), seventh-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain (Pool G) and ninth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy (Pool H).
Three rounds of elimination contests for men will be played Friday to set the field for Sunday’s semi-final and medal matches. The women’s “final four” matches will be played Saturday. The winning teams at the Gstaad Major will split the $57,000 first-place prizes.