Brazil, Italy, Poland and United States vie for men’s Rio Open gold

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 20, 2017 - For the 108th-time in 358 men’s events since the start of the FIVB World Tour in 1987, four different countries will be competing in the semi-finals of an international Beach Volleyball tournament as pairs from host Brazil, Italy, Poland and the United States won quarter-finals matches here Saturday at the US$300,000 Rio Open.

Three of the four pairs in Saturday afternoon’s opening men’s “final four” matches competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, including second-seeded Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, sixth-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland and ninth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy.

The fourth semi-finalists are 13th-seeded Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson of the United States, who eliminated Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal winners and fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands in three sets.  Patterson played with Jake Gibb in the Rio Olympics after the pair placed 19th.

With Lupo and Nicolai playing the Poles in Saturday’s second semi-final match, the Italians eliminated Kantor and Losiak from the Rio Olympics to even the FIVB series between the two teams at 1-1.  After defeating the Poles in the Olympic “lucky loser” round, Lupo and Nicolai dropped the Rio gold medal match to Alison and Bruno.  It was the last FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams as Alison and Bruno have won six of the nine previous matches with the Italians, including five-straight victories.

Alison and Bruno posted the first men’s quarter-final win Saturday with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-15) victory in 37 minutes over 11th-seeded Jake Gibb and Taylor Crabb of the United States.  The reigning Olympic and FIVB world champions, Alison and Bruno will be challenged by Brunner and Patterson in Saturday’s first men’s semi-final.

Brunner and Patterson, who defeated Alison Brunner 2-0 (21-14, 22-20) in a pool play match at a SWATCH Major Series stop in February at Fort Lauderdale in the United States, advanced with a 2-1 (18-21, 28-26, 15-13) in 53 minutes over Brouwer and Meeuwsen.

Excitement for American Casey Patterson

Poland denied the United States a second spot in the semi-finals as Kantor and Losiak scored a 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) win in 33 minutes over Doherty and the 44-year old Hyden.  The young Polish Olympians will be seeking their second FIVB World Tour gold medal in Rio after winning a Grand Slam event on Copacabana in mid-March 2016.

Piotr Kantor (right) of Poland hits against American Ryan Doherty

Lupo and Nicolai posted the final Rio Open quarter-final win by upsetting top-seeded Alvaro Filho/Saymon Barbosa of Brazil 2-1 (20-22, 21-16, 15-11) in 51 minutes.  Alvaro and Saymon, the top team on the Brazilian domestic tour with 10-straight “final four” finishes, won the season-opening international event in February at the Fort Lauderdale Major.

Pre-match handshaking featuring (left to right) Alvaro (No. 2, yellow), Saymon, Lupo and Nicolai

The Rio Open men’s medal matches will be played Sunday morning at the tennis center located at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca along with the women’s podium placement games.  With the winning teams in each gender collecting the $20,000 first-place prizes, the Rio Open marks the 18th men’s and 11th women’s FIVB World Tour stop in the Brazilian coastal city.

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. >


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