Porec, Croatia, June 30, 2016 -The expected did not materialize here Thursday as the top two-seeded men’s teams in the US$800,000 Porec Open were upset by pairs from Poland and Brazil during the afternoon round of pool play matches at the FIVB World Tour event in this Croatian coastal resort town.
Reigning FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and defending Porec Major champions Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands were defeated in their second pool play match after opening competition Thursday morning with wins over teams from Croatia (Pool A) and Brazil (Pool B), respectively. Both the Brazilians and the Dutch will also be the top two-seeded teams at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Both the Brazilians and Dutch will still have an opportunity to win their group with wins Friday morning. Alison and Bruno must defeat 16th-seeded Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri, who won their first two Pool A matches over Polish and Croatian pairs, and hope to have a better point ratio than their Italian rivals. The Brazilians have never lost to Carambula and Ranghieri in four FIVB World Tour matches.
Alison and Bruno’s must win situation was set up when the Brazilians dropped a 2-1 (17-21, 21-16, 16-14) decision in 51 minutes to 17th-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland. It was the fourth FIVB World Tour match between the two teams with the series now knotted at 2-2.
With three Pool A teams Olympic-bound, Fijalek and Prudel opened play Thursday with a 2-1 (21-18, 14-21, 15-12) setback in 41 minutes to Carambula and Ranghieri, who placed third in the 2015 Porec Major. The Italians and Poles were playing for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen, the 2013 FIVB world champions, where upset by 18th-seeded qualifiers Saymon Barbosa and Gustavo “Guto” Carvalhaes of Brazil 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-13) in a 49-minute Pool B match. It was the Brazilians’ second three-set win Thursday after upsetting 15th-seeded Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst 2-1 (25-23, 19-21, 15-11) in 56 minutes.
The 22-year old Brazilians, who won a gold medal in mid-May at the Cincinnati Open in the United States and were playing both Thursday opponents for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour, can secure the Pool B title by defeating 31st-seeded Jan Pokersnik and Nejc Zemljak of Slovenia. A Brazilian setback would give the winner of the Brouwer/Meeuwsen versus Doppler/Horst match a chance to surpass Saymon and Guto due to the point ratio tie-breaker.
Other teams posting 2-0 records to lead their pools were Americans third-seeded Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena (Pool C) and fourth-seeded Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson (Pool D), fifth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia (Pool E) and ninth-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera (Pool H).
The men’s group with two-way ties at the top are Pools F and Pool G. Sixth-seeded Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk of Canada and 11th-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands each defeated pairs from Italy and Poland to rank atop Pool F. The Dutch lead the FIVB series 3-2 with Nummerdor and Varenhorst the victors in meetings one, three and five.
In Pool G, seventh-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland and 10th-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg of Brazil each posted wins over teams from Austria and Norway Thursday. The two teams will meet for the sixth-time on the FIVB World Tour Friday with Evandro and Goncalves holding a 3-2 edge.
Kantor and Losiak have won the last two meetings with the Brazilians, including a 2-0 (21-19, 23-21) gold medal meeting in mid-March at the Rio Grand Slam on Copacabana and a 2-0 (21-18, 21-11) victory at the Moscow Grand Slam. The three Brazilian wins were last season at the Stavanger Major in Norway, and Grand Slams stops in the United States and Japan.
Following the conclusion of pool play Friday morning, the men will play one round of elimination in the afternoon to set the schedule for the “Sweet 16” and “Elite 8” matches Saturday. The men’s semi-finals and medal matches will be Sunday where the winning team will share the $57,000 first-place prize.
The SWATCH Major Series continues with two more stops in Europe at Gstaad Switzerland (July 5-10) and Klagenfurt, Austria (July 26-31). Following the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the ASISCS World Series of Beach Volleyball at the end of August in the United States at Long Beach will be the final event used to determine the top eight teams for the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals to be played September 13-18 at a site to be determined.