Olsztyn, Poland, June 16, 2016 - Are the nine men’s teams competing here Thursday during the opening pool play rounds at the US$800,000 Olsztyn Grand Slam just playing for FIVB World Tour points or just prepping for next week’s European Continental Cup Finals in Stavanger, Norway?
If your answer was for points, you were partly correct as finishes on the FIVB World Tour, especially in the Main Draw, enhances a team’s ability to enter international events easier. However, prepping for Stavanger is top of mind with each team as the winner next week earns a berth for their country in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The second- and third-place finishers in Stavanger will get a “second chance” for a Copacabana beach chair when the runner-ups from each of the five FIVB confederations will playoff July 6-10 in Sochi, Russia, for the remaining two berths for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to be played August 6-18.
CEV-bound teams competing in Olsztyn this week are Georgios Kotsilianos/Nikos Zoupanis of Greece, Sean Faiga/Ariel Hilman of Israel, Rihards Finsters/Edgars Tocs and Martins Plavins/Haralds Regza of Latvia, Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin of Russia, Francisco Alfredo Marco/Christian García and Francisco Tomás/César Menéndez of Spain and Nico Beeler/Alexei Strasser and Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson of Switzerland.
“Oleg and Artem missed last week in Hamburg to play in a domestic event where we worked on some basic tactics,” said Rivo Vesik, the Estonian Beach Volleyball Olympic that coaches the young Russian pair of Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin. “We finished fourth, but the goal to refine their game and work on some basics. This week, we are here to win and improve our coordination.”
Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin have an Olympic gold medal to their credit as the pair captured the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China. “Our goal is to represent our country again in the Summer Games,” said Stoyanovskiy. “Playing on the world tour has taught us a lot and we are ready for Stavanger. But it will not be easy as the level of competition will be very high and competitive.”
In Stavanger, each CEV federation (NF) will participate with two teams which must be composed of athletes not having already qualified for quota spots to the Olympic Games for their national federation through the FIVB World Tour Olympic ranking process. The CEV Continental Cup will be played using a single-elimination country vs. country “best-of-three” format. Each country participates with two teams per gender composed of two players each. In the ‘best-of-three’ format the sequence of matches will be as follows:
•Match No 1: (Higher seeded NF) team 1 vs (Lower seeded NF) team 2
•Match No 2: (Higher seeded NF) team 2 vs (Lower seeded NF) team 1
•Match No 3: “Golden Match” - in case of tie in matches won and lost (this match can be played in any combination of the four participating athletes per NF).
The countries participating in the 2016 CEV Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Final in Stavanger are:
Men - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine.
Women - Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine.
Rio 2016 Olympic qualifiers competing in the Olsztyn Grand Slam this week are Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria, Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg of Brazil, Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada, Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Italy, Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia, Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland, Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain and Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson of the United States.
Alison and Bruno, the reigning FIVB world champions, captured the 2015 Olsztyn Grand Slam gold medal by defeating Gibb and Patterson for the gold medal 2-0 (21-10, 21-15) in 34 minutes. Saxton and Schalk claimed the inaugural Olsztyn bronze medal with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) third-place win in 37 minutes over Germany’s Jonathan Erdmann and Kay Matysik of Germany.
Thursday’s Olsztyn Grand Slam schedule features 24 pool play matches for both men and women. The Olsztyn Grand Slam will have elimination rounds for women Friday followed by Saturday’s “final four” matches. The men’s eliminator will be Saturday followed by the medal matches Sunday. The winning teams will share the $57,000 first-place prizes.