Olsztyn, Poland, June 16, 2016 - A year ago at this time, the Brazilian men’s teams on the FIVB World Tour were in a “slump” by not finishing first in three-straight “big” events with only two silver medals to their credit during an eight-month stretch on the international Beach Volleyball calendar.
The “slump” ended on June 13, 2015 when Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg topped the podium at the Stavanger Major where the Brazilians defeated Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak in the Norwegian finale. For the next four months, the South Americans dominated the FIVB World Tour by winning six of the seven “big” tournaments, including a gold medal performance by Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in The Hague.
It’s a year later and the Brazilians are back in a “slump” after failing to reach the top of the podium in the last three FIVB “big” events with only two medals to their credit after Evandro/Pedro and Alison/Bruno placed second in the Rio (March) and Moscow (May) Grand Slams, respectively.
So a year later after ending a “slump” in Norway, can the US$800,000 Olsztyn Grand Slam be the site where the Brazilians regain that gold medal touch? Poland has always been a good place for the Brazilian men as they have captured gold medals at nine of the previous 15 events in the European country with 17 podium placements.
Brazilians have also topped the podium in the last two FIVB World Tour events in Poland with Pedro teaming with Alvaro Filho to win the 2014 stop in Stare Jablonki with Alison and Bruno topping the podium last August in the inaugural Olsztyn Grand Slam. Three of the 15 events were All-Brazilian affairs.
If play so far this week is any indication, the Crooked Lake site behind the Hotel Omega should compare favorably with the dock-side courts in Stavanger as the four Brazilian pairs in the Olsztyn Grand Slam have won eight of 10 matches highlighted by opening group wins Thursday by Evandro/Pedro and Alison/Bruno, who will form the Brazilian Olympic teams at the Rio 2016 Summer Games.
“It like starting another season now that the Olympic qualifying is over,” was a consensus among players going to Rio to play in the Olympics or just playing in another “big” event on the FIVB World Tour. “I agree with that,” said Bruno. “For us going to play in the Olympics, we have one goal in site. Winning in Rio and we are all working hard to accomplish that.”
After losing in the finals of the Moscow Grand Slam three weeks ago and in the bronze medal match last Sunday in the smart Major Hamburg, Bruno and Alison did not appear discouraged by their performance. “It was nice to be in the final four but we need to try to improve, to try to raise our level,” Bruno said. “Our main stage is in August.”
Thursday’s Olsztyn Grand Slam schedule featured 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.