Olsztyn, Poland, June 19, 2016 – Since the start of sanctioned men’s Beach Volleyball competition by the FIVB in 1987, the “road to gold” at any international stops usually finds Brazilian opposition and the path to the top of the podium here Sunday at the Olsztyn Grand Slam is no different.
With the US$800,000 Olsztyn Grand Slam being the 346th men event in the 30-year history of the FIVB World Tour, Brazilians teams have reached an international semi-final for the 302nd-time with the prospects of two pairs from the South American country competing against each other in the gold medal match for the 65th time.
The Brazilian dominance of FIVB World Tour semi-finals is especially true for Polish stops as teams from the South American country have competed in 14 of the previous 15 “final four” for stops in the European country. The only miss being in 2012 when Alison Cerutti and Emanuel Rego finished fifth in Stare Jablonki, a week after the conclusion of the London 2012 Olympic Games where the Brazilian pair net the silver medal.
Led by Emanuel and his legendary partner Ricardo, Brazilians pairs have won nine of the 15 Polish FIVB World Tour events with Alison and his current mate Bruno Oscar Schmidt topping the 2015 podium in the inaugural Olsztyn Grand Slam where the reigning world champions defeated Americans Jake Gibb and Casey Patterson in the finals 2-0 (21-10, 21-15) in the 34-minute gold medal match.
Alison and Bruno are back in the Olsztyn Grand Slam semi-finals again this season and are joined by 22-year old Brazilian compatriots Saymon Barbosa/Gustavo “Guto” Carvalhaes as two pairs are on the opposite side of the bracket and headed to a possible All-Brazilian finale where the winning team will share the $57,000 first-place prize.
Saymon (left) and Gibb faced off in a Olsztyn Grand Slam pool play match Friday
The third-seeded Gibb and Patterson are back in the “final four” again Sunday, but must face second-seeded Alison and Bruno in the semi-finals this time. Saymon and Guto will have the toughest road to the Olsztyn finals as the 14th-seeded Brazilian qualifiers must challenge sixth-seeded Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins and their “SAM SME” legion of 300 Latvians followers.
Gibb and Patterson have never defeated Alison and Bruno in five previous FIVB World Tour stops so it is highly-probable that the reigning FIVB World Tour champions will be playing the 12th international gold medal match where the Brazilians have an 8-3 mark. An American upset would give Gibb and Patterson a shot at their third FIVB gold medal in five attempts.
Samoilovs (SAM) and Smedins (SME) have played Saymon and Guto once on the FIVB World Tour with the Latvians defeating the young Brazilians in the Rio Open last September on Copacabana with the Latvians posting a 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) victory in a 35-minute semi-final match.
While the participants in the 2015 Olsztyn Grand Slam gold medal match are meeting Sunday in the semi-finals, Samoilovs and Smedins were eliminated by the Alison and Bruno in the quarter-finals last year 2-0 (21-12, 21-19) in 33 minutes. Saymon and Guto also played in Olsztyn last year, but were eliminated in the Brazilian country quota matches by compatriots Vitor Felipe/Alvaro Filho, who were eliminated Saturday by the Latvians in the quarter-finals.
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.
Olsztyn Grand Slam women's podium featured (left to right) Larissa, Talita, Ludwig, Walkenhorst, Dubovcova and Nestarcova