Rio de Janeiro, May 19, 2017 - When plays starts here Friday morning, 64 men’s and women’s teams will still be in contention for the gold medals at the Rio Open, but after playing 48 matches, only 16 Beach Volleyball pairs will be in contention for the top podium sports at the 2017 FIVB World Tour stop at the tennis center located at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca.
With the eight remaining pool matches for both women and men at the top of Friday’s morning schedule where eight teams per gender will be ousted for the US$300,000 international tournament, the first two rounds in the eliminations brackets will be played in the afternoon to expel 16 more duos per gender from the competition to create the match-ups for Saturday’s quarter-finals.
While none of the women’s top-eight-seeded pairs are in jeopardy during the final pool play matches in the morning, three of the top-eight-seeded men's teams must win morning contests to stay in contention. This includes third-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Andre Loyola Brazil (Pool C), sixth-seeded Piotr Kantor Bartosz Losiak of Poland (Pool F) and eighth-seeded Olympians Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk of Canada (Pool G).
To advance to the 24-team elimination bracket Friday afternoon, Evandro and Andre must oust 14th-seeded Michal Bryl/Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland, Kantor and Losiak must defeat 22nd-seeded Markus Bockermann/Lars Fluggen of Germany while Saxton and Schalk must expel 24th-seeded Maciej Rudol and Jakub Szalankiewicz of Poland.
With two of the three matches being first-time meetings on the FIVB World Tour, the Poland-Germany confrontation will be the sixth between the two pairs with Kantor and Losiak holding a 3-2 edge over Bockermann/Fluggen. At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Kantor and Losiak posted their third-straight win over the Germans with a 2-0 (21011, 23-21) pool play win in 38 minutes.
Markus Bockermann (left) versus Piotr Kantor at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
The winner of Friday’s early matches will advance to the afternoon schedule as third-place finishers in their pool and will challenge a second-place team from pool play in the opening round of bracket play. The pool winners receive a “bye” into the second round of bracket competition.
Host Brazil won seven overall pools Thursday, including four women group titles led by top-seeded Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca (Pool A). Alvaro Filho and Saymon Barbosa of Brazil, the top-seeded pair in the men’s competition, also protected its ranking with two wins Thursday to win their group (Pool A).
Other Brazilian group winners Thursday were fourth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa (Pool D), fifth-seeded Fernanda Alves/Barbara Seixas of Brazil (Pool E) and ninth-seeded Elize Maia/Taiana Lima (Pool H) in the women’s competition. Men’s pool champions were Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (Pool B) and fifth-seeded Gustavo "Guto" Carvalhaes/Pedro Solberg (Pool E).
Other women’s group leaders were second-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst (Pool C) and third-seeded Chantal Laboureur/Julia Sude (Pool C) of Germany, seventh-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic (Pool G) and 11th-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool F).
Sarah Pavan (left) and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada
Capturing the other five men’s pools were fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (Pool D), seventh-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera Spain (Pool G), ninth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy (Pool H), 11th-seeded Taylor Crabb/Jake Gibb of the United States (Pool F) and 19th-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst of Austria (Pool C).
Olympians at the net - Christiaan Varenhorst (left) of The Netherlands and 41-year old American Jake Gibb
Following Saturday’s quarter- and semi-final matches, the medal matches will be played Sunday. The winning teams in each gender’s competition will win the gold medals and the $20,000 first-place prizes.
Following the Rio Open, the next stop on the FIVB World Tour will be May 31-June 4 in Moscow for a three-star event in the Russian capital. Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.