Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 20, 2017 - Two teams that captured gold medals last season on Copacabana will meet here Sunday as 2016 Rio Grand Slam winners Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland will challenge reigning Olympic and FIVB world champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil after the two Beach Volleyball pairs advanced to the finals of the men’s US$300,000 Rio Open with a pair of wins Saturday.
The Rio Open men’s finale will be the last of four medal matches to be played Sunday morning at the tennis center located at the Olympic Park in Barra da Tijuca where the women will compete in the first and third contests on the schedule. The winning teams in each gender collecting the $20,000 first-place prizes.
Bartosz Losiak (left) and Piotr Kantor of Poland
Seeded second in the competition and winners of their Olympic gold medals last August on Copacabana, Alison and Bruno advanced to their 16th FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 33 international starts together by posting a 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) win in 35 minutes over 13th-seeded Theo Brunner/Casey Patterson of the United States.
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. Brunner and Patterson, who defeated Alison and Bruno 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 to the “final four” with a 2-1 (18-21, 28-26, 15-13) in 53 minutes over Brouwer and Meeuwsen.
Theo Brunner (No. 1) at the net with American partner Casey Patterson following the action
The sixth-seeded Kantor and Losiak, who are winless in seven FIVB World Tour matches with Alison and Bruno, Kantor and Losiak opened play Saturday with a 2-0 (22-20, 21-18) win in 33 minutes over Ryan Doherty and Hyden followed by a 2-0 (21-19 21-19) semi-final victory in 40 minutes over ninth-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy.
Paolo Nicolai (right) hits against Poland's Piotr Kantor (center) as Italian partner Daniele Lupo follows the action
The young Polish Olympians, who were eliminated by the Italians in the 2016 Olympic Games, will be seeking their second FIVB World Tour gold medal in Rio after winning a Grand Slam event on Copacabana in mid-March 2016 where they defeated Brazilian Olympians Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg in the finals.
Sunday’s match will be Kantor and Losiak’s four World Tour finale in 61 FIVB starts. Prior to becoming regulars on the international circuit, Kantor and Losiak ranked as one of the top teams in the FIVB youth championship competition by winning three titles in six events with one second-place finish.
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.
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.