Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March 12, 2016 - It has been a very successful week for Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak as the three-time FIVB youth world champions will compete in their second FIVB World Tour gold medal match after defeating two highly-regarded pairs here Saturday at the US$800,000 Rio Grand Slam.
However, Kantor and Losiak’s run of eight-straight victories this week is only secondary to the fact that a Polish women’s team advanced to an international gold medal match for the first-time ever to create a historical event for the European country’s Beach Volleyball development with two chances to win two gender titles at the same FIVB World Tour event. Quick links
• Rio Grand Slam website
• Country quota results - Men
• Country quota results - Women
• Qualification - Men
• Qualification - Women
• Main draw - Men
• Main draw - Women
Being played on the site as August’s Rio 2016 Olympic Games, 23rd-seeded qualifiers Kantor and Losiak defeated 15th-seeded compatriots Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel 2-0 (21-17, 23-21) in a 43-minute semi-final match to advance to Sunday morning’s title match against fourth-seeded Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil.
Before the All-Polish men’s semi-final, 12th-seeded Monika Brzostek and Kinga Kolosinska earned Poland’s first-ever berth in a FIVB World Tour finale by defeating 20th-seeded Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland 2-1 (21-13, 13-21, 15-13) in a 44-minute semi-final match. The Polish girls will now play eighth-seeded American Olympic medalists April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings for the gold medal Sunday.
It was the first-time that Kantor and Losiak had defeated their Polish rivals on the international circuit as Fijalek and Prudel had won the first four meetings. Three of the Fijalek/Prudel victories were last season at FIVB Grand Slam stops in the United States, Switzerland and Japan.
“We are very happy with the win and very pleased with our performance,” said the 23-year old Losiak. “We had never defeated our Polish rivals on the world tour, so tonight win is very important for us as we move forward in securing a spot to return to Rio for the Olympic Games.”FIVB YOUTH CHAMPIONS
While Fijalek and Prudel competed as the first Polish team in the Olympic Beach Volleyball competition at the London 2012 Summer Games, Kantor and Losiak have developed through the FIVB youth world championships with gold medals at the 2010 under 19 in Portugal (Porto), the 2012 under 21 in Canada (Halifax) and the 2013 under 23 in Poland (Myslowice).
To advance to their second FIVB World Tour gold medal match, Kantor and Losiak scored a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) quarter-final win earlier Saturday in 44 minutes over sixth-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena of the United States. The Poles and Dalhausser/Lucena are the top-two teams on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour rankings.
The young Poles have now won eight-straight matches this week, including two qualifying victories Tuesday followed by three pool play wins Wednesday and Thursday. Kantor and Losiak are playing in their 48th FIVB World Tour event with the Rio Grand Slam “final four” being their fourth.
Full-time performers internationally since 2013, Kantor and Losiak will be playing in their 180th FIVB World match Sunday and a win would be No. 100. For the 2015-2016 FIVB season that started in October at the Mexican stop in Puerto Vallarta, Kantor and Losiak are 27-9 with nearly $60,000 in winnings.GOLD MEDAL OPPONENT
Brazil's Evandro Goncalves against Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands
Evandro and Pedro advanced to their fourth FIVB World Tour gold medal match by defeating fifth-seeded Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 15-6) in a 50-minute match on the sand. With the Dutch leading 16-13 in the second set, the match was stopped due to lightning and was resumed 48 minutes later.
"Despite losing the second set, I think that helped us regain our composure for the deciding set," said Pedro, who is from Rio de Janeiro. "We were able to tie the second set at 17-17 due to Evandro's serving. That run gave us a lift and Evandro came out firing in the third set. It is great to be here in the finals where I live."
Sunday's title meeting will be the fourth between the two teams on the FIVB World Tour. Pedro and Evandro defeated Kantor and Losiak in two sets in the gold medal match at last June's Norwegian Major in Stavanger. It was the Brazilians only gold medal win in three tries.
To reach the semi-finals, Evandro and Pedro ousted ninth-seeded Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria 2-1 (22-20, 19-21, 15-12) in a 57-minute quarter-final match Saturday afternoon. With the men’s and women’s quarter- and semi-finals being played Saturday on the seaside courts, the medal matches are scheduled for Sunday morning. The winning teams in both the men’s and women’s gold medal match will share the $57,000 first-place prizes. The silver medal teams will spit $43,000.WHAT’S NEXT
The Rio Grand Slam is the third of five Olympic qualifying events being staged in the South American country with the final two tournaments being next week in Vitoria (March 15-20) and at Fortaleza (April 26-May 1). The Rio Grand Slam is the fourth event on the women’s FIVB World Tour calendar for the 2015-2016 season.