Moscow, Russia, May 27, 2016 - When Adrian Gavira and Pablo Herrera captured their first-ever FIVB World Tour gold medal at the 2015 Moscow Grand Slam, the Spaniards dropped their first match of the competition before reeling off six-straight wins at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre to top the podium in the Russian capital.
A year later, Gavira and Herrera are following the same script as the pair won two elimination matches here Friday to advance to the quarter-finals of this week’s Moscow Grand Slam where the 12th-seeded Spaniards will challenge second-seeding Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson of the United States in an opening men’s match Saturday.
The two teams will be meeting for the first-time on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar as the Americans hold a 3-2 edge in the international series with the last meeting being this past September in the United States where Gibb and Patterson posted a 2-1 (19-21, 21-16, 18-16) win in 62 minutes at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The two teams have a history in Moscow as Gavira and Herrera defeated the Americans in a three-set pool play match at the 2014 Russian capital stop.
“We look forward to playing the Americans,” said the 33-year Herrera, who will be playing in his 40th FIVB World Tour quarter-final in 77 international starts. “Each of those previous five matches have been tough. We are just excited to have an opportunity to reach the semi-finals again in Moscow. Winning here last year since it was our first gold medal together was great, especially since it was a grand slam event.”
Like last season, the Spaniards dropped their opening pool play match with this year’s defeat being to 21st-seeded Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho of Brazil in two sets. The Spaniards won their last two matches in their group Thursday highlighted by a three-set win over fifth-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands.
To advance to Saturday’s schedule, Gavira and Herrera extended their current Moscow winning streak to four-straight by posting elimination wins Friday over 18th-seeded Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany 2-0 (21-12, 21-14) in 30 minutes and eighth-seeded 2014 Moscow Grand Slam champions Konstantin Semenov/Viacheslav Krasilnikov of Russia 2-0 (22-20, 22-20) in 38 minutes.
Gibb and Patterson also had to play two matches Friday after their final pool play match Thursday to a team form Poland. To earn a spot in Saturday’s lineup, the Americans eliminated 24th-seeded qualifiers Michal Kadziola/Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland 2-0 (21-13, 21-18) in 30 minutes followed by a 2-1 (21-13, 19-21, 15-10) victory in 46 minutes over 19th-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany.
Jake Gibb (left) celebrates a point with American partner Casey Patterson
Two Brazilian and two Dutch pairs also earned quarter-final berths along with 13th-seeded Paolo Nicolai/Daniele Lupo of Italy and 17th-seeded Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor of Poland. The Dutch teams advancing were Nummerdor/Varenhorst and sixth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen.
Top-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt lead the Brazilian pairs into the quarter-finals as the reigning FIVB world champions placed fourth in last season’s Moscow Grand Slam. Compatriots Vitor and Alvaro will also be playing for the South American country Saturday. While the Dutch play each other in the first quarter-final match with the winner playing the Spain versus USA victors, Losiak/Kantor meet Vitor/Alvaro with the victorious pair meeting either Lupo/Nicolai or Alison/Bruno.
Poland's Bartosz Losiak (left) and Piotr Kantor
Friday’s schedule also featured the Rounds of 24 and 16 contests for women with both genders playing quarter-final and semi-finals matches Saturday. The medal matches for the Moscow Grand Slam will be played Sunday afternoon with the gold medal teams sharing the $57,000 first-places prizes.