Seeded 15th in the US$150,000 FIVB World Tour event at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre, the 20-year old Stoyanovskiy and 21-year old Yarzutkin posted a 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-8) win in 41 minutes over the top-seeded Samoilovs and Smedins to share the $5,000 third-place prize.
Artem Yarzutkin (left) of Russia hits against three-time Latvian Olympian Aleksandrs Samoilovs
In losing to the Russians for the second-straight time after winning the first two matches with Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin, the Latvians shared $4,000 for fourth-place as Samoilovs and Smedins were trying to return to the Moscow podium after winning the 2013 event.
"We are really proud that we won a medal, here in Moscow, in front of our home crowd," said Yarzutkin. "That was such a great feeling. We are really, really happy. We didn't expect winning anything here, because there were so many good teams, who are more experienced, competing here. Now we hope to compete in the world championships as well."
Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin’s road to the bronze medal featured five wins in six matches with the only setback being a 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) semi-final decision to fourth-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the United States. With three wins over pairs that competed in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the young Russians most impressive win was a 2-1 (15-21 21-15 15-7) elimination victory Friday in 38 minutes over Alexander Bouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands, the bronze medal winners at the Copacabana Summer Games last August in Brazil.
The Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic champions, Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin were competing in their 22nd World Tour event with their “final four” finish this week their third overall and second this season after winning the bronze medal in February in Iran on Kish Island. For FIVB World Tour matches, the young Russians have posted a 45-41 record.
The win by Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin also guarantees Russia two spots on the Moscow men's podium as the host country pair of Viacheslav Krasilnikov/Nikita Liamin will be playing Dalhausser and Lucena in the gold medal match. It marks the third-time two Russian men's tandems have captured two podium spots at the same event.
Sunday's medal winners also accomplished the feat in mid-February in Iran on Kish Island where Krasilnikov/Liamin captured the gold medal and Stoyanovskiy/Yarzutkin finished third. The first-time was at the 2013 Anapa Open with Yaroslav Koshkarev/Konstantin Semenov winning gold and Krasilnikov/Alexey Pastukhov netting the bronze medal.
In winning four of seven matches this week, including a 2-1 (18-21, 22-20, 15-12) quarter-final win over Alison and Bruno Saturday, Samoilovs and Smedins were competing in their 23rd “final four” in 51 World Tour starts together. The Latvians have compiled a 218-76 match mark (74.1 winning percent) together since forming their partnership in 2013. The Moscow title in August 2013 was Samoilovs and Smedins’ second of nine FIVB gold medals.
Janis Smedins (right) of Latvia challenges Oleg Stoyanovskiy of Russia Sunday at the Moscow center court net
Following the Moscow stop, the FIVB World Tour takes a week off before resuming play June 15-18 for a “three-star” $150,000 event in The Netherlands at The Hague.
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 Vienna, Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany. Overall, there are 15 men’s and 19 women’s events on the $5.335-million FIVB World Tour schedule.