Olsztyn, Poland, June 19, 2016 - On a glorious day on the Crooked Lake center court here Sunday at the US$800,000 Olsztyn Grand Slam, Beach Volleyball was played at the highest level and better than anywhere else on the planet as Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins delighted more than 300 fellow countryman that traveled over seven hours to witness their gold medal performance against the world’s No. 1 team.
With their convincing 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) gold medal win in 37 minutes over second-seeded and reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, the sixth-seeded Samoilovs and Smedins collected the $57,000 first-place prize in winning their first international Grand Slam title since topping the Moscow podium in August 2013.
Alison and Bruno, who shared the $43,000 prize for second-place, started on “fire” in the first set against the Latvians and led 15-11 before a Samoilovs cut shot and two blocks by Smedins cut the advantage to 15-14. After a point by Alison, the Latvians scored five-straight points to take a 19-16 lead enroute to winning the first set.
Samoilovs and Smedins, who have now won eight FIVB World Tour gold medals together, led throughout the second set taking a 4-0, 8-2, 11-4 and 13-5 leads enroute to the victory as Alison and Bruno got no closer than four points at 18-14. In winning in two sets, the Latvians snapped a two-match losing streak to the Brazilians and now trail Alison and Bruno in the overall FIVB World Tour series at 4-3.
After the match, Samoilovs said it was “very important for us mentally to get confidence against this team. Because they are a really good team and they are one of the main teams that will go for gold in Rio for sure. So it was really important to beat them. And also last year, we lost to them and all our fans had to stay here without us. So now we stayed together the whole tournament. They are happy and satisfied. So everybody is enjoying this."
On the slow start in the first set, Smedins said “the Brazilian guys played really good in block-defense and we had some problems with our side-out. We were lucky to win the first set, because the Brazilians had five-point (7-2, 8-3, 9-4, 10-5, 11-6 and 12-7) leads. In the second we were leading the whole time, we just wanted to finish early."
After winning six FIVB World Championship, Grand Slam and Majors events last season, Alison and Bruno have now finished fifth, second, fourth and second in their first four “big” events on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar. When asked about the Lativans' “out-of-this-world” performance in the second set, Bruno said "the Latvians played great and we played poorly in the second set. wW are very disappointed with our performance in the finals."
Samoilovs and Smedins advanced to their 13th FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 43 international events with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-18, 15-12) semi-final win in 51 minutes over 14th-seeded qualifiers Saymon Barbosa/Gustavo “Guto” Carvalhaes of Brazil. Alison and Bruno advanced to their 12th FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 27 international starts together with a 2-1 (21-16, 18-21, 18-16) win in 51 minutes over third-seeded Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson of the United States.
In the bronze medal match, Saymon (“Super Stuffer”) and Guto defeated Gibb and Patterson 2-1 (21-15, 19-21, 15-11) in 48 minutes to split the $32,000 third-place prize while collecting their first-ever FIVB Grand Slam medal. Last month at the Cincinnati Open in the United States, Saymon and Guto topped the podium. Gibb and Patterson, who finished second in the 2015 Olsztyn Grand Slam after losing in two sets to Alison and Bruno in the finals, split $24,000 for fourth-place.
The fourth of nine “big” events on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour calendar, the Olsztyn Grand Slam featured the women’s medal matches Saturday where Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst captured the gold medal with a 2-1 (21-18, 15-21, 15-10) win in 41 minutes over Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil. Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova of the Slovak Republic netted the bronze medal with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-14) victory in 36 minutes over Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa and Elize Maia of Brazil.