Olsztyn, Poland, June 19, 2016 - Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins will have the task of dethroning the 2015 Olsztyn Grand Slam champions here Sunday afternoon as the Latvians scored a come-from-behind semi-final win over a young Brazilian pair in the semi-finals of the US$800,000 FIVB World Tour event on the Crooked Lake center court behind the Hotel Omega.
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, the sixth-seeded Samoilovs and Smedins will play second-seeded and defending Olsztyn Grand Slam champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil for the gold medal and the $57,000 first-place prize.
Sunday’s finale will be the seventh FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams with Alison and Bruno holding a 4-2 edge in the series after defeating the Latvians last season in the gold medal match at the Gstaad Major last July and in the quarter-finals of the 2015 Olsztyn Grand Slam last August.
Alison and Bruno advanced to their 12th FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 27 international starts together by posting 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, who served three times for the match in an effort to beat the Brazilians for the first-time in six contests. Two “monster” blocks by Alison ended the confrontation.
After their second win in as many FIVB meetings with Saymon and Guto, Samoilovs said “it was a tough match, just like the previous two matches with Brazilian teams in this tournament. We were leading in the first set two or three points and then we made a few mistakes in a row and we lost the first set. The same scenario as in the previous two games. But it's a good scenario because in the end we win in three."
When asked about Saymon’s block, Samoilovs said “it was tough in your mind when you got blocked so many times in a row. You're analyzing, in your head. Why am I making these mistakes, why didn't I make a better side-out or better reception? And then you just change somethings during the game."
Samoilovs was asked how he managed to avoid Saymon's block later in the match, he said "just attack, watch. Watch, run and jump higher. But it was not only Saymon's block. It's also Guto's defense. He is very fast. You can't make slow shots, you have to be really fast."
Sunday’s finale will be fifth meeting between Brazil and Latvia for a men’s FIVB World Tour gold medal with the South Americans leading 3-1 highlighted by Alison and Bruno’s 2-1 (21-16, 13-21, 15-10) gold medal win in 44 minutes over Samoilovs and Smedins at the Gstaad Major last July 12. It was Smedins first tournament back after missing a month of action due to knee surgery.
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.