Potential Rio 2016 Olympic match previewed at Vitória Open?

Vitória, Brazil, March 20, 2016 - Whatever the pool assignments will be for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a possible matchup was played here Saturday in the bronze medal match at the $150,000 Vitória Open on the Camburi beach between Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands and Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri of Italy.

Quick links
•    Vitória Open website
•    Qualification - Men
•    Qualification - Women
•    Main draw - Men
•    Main draw - Women

For the record, the fourth-seeded Brouwer and Meeuwsen won the bronze medal match 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) in 38 minutes to split the $6,000 third-place prize while Carambula and Ranghieri shared $4,500 for fourth place. Brouwer and Meeuwsen are now 3-0 against their European counterparts after defeating ninth-seeded Carambula and Ranghieri in the Porec Major semifinals and the Gstaad Major bronze medal match last season.

“It’s such a big reward,” said Brouwer after the bronze medal win. “This tournament, with the 22 sets we played in these circumstances, so hot and so humid, this was one of the biggest tests for us physically and mentally. We started really bad in the pool and every round, round one, round two, round three it got a little better and to win the bronze, it’s really a great victory.”

The Dutch are currently the top-ranked foreign team on the Rio 2016 qualifying list behind two Brazilian pairs that have already secured spots for the Rio de Janeiro Summer Games (August 6-18) and almost assured to have one of the top spots in one of the six pools.  Carambula and Ranghieri are listed ninth among the foreign pairs and 11th overall and will possibly land a spot as a No. 2 tandem in one of the six groups.

But, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are 20 weeks away and who knows what will happen with the qualifying that has nine more men’s events to determine the top 15 teams from the FIVB World Tour that will earn berths in the 24-team field. Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt (2015 FIVB world champions) and Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg (host country berth) were announced last September as the Brazilian men’s entries for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Pumped up Italian style Daniele Lupo (left) and Paolo Nicolai

Italy will have its second chance to medal mid-day Sunday at the Vitória Open as 13th-seeded Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai challenge top-seeded and hometown favorites Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil for the $11,000 first-place prize. It is the third time that the two teams have met in a FIVB World Tour finale.

With both gold medal matches being played in 2014, the Italians won the first gold medal in China (Fuzhou) while Alison and Bruno rebounded to top the podium in Austria (Klagenfurt) by defeating Lupo and Nicolai, who are ranked No. 12 on the Rio qualifying list. The Italians placed fifth together at the London 2012 Olympic Games where they lost to Alison and Emanuel Rego in pool play.

The early season FIVB World Tour swing through Brazil concludes with the Vitória Open after previous stops in Maceio (February 23-28) and on iconic Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro (March 8-13). Following the Vitória Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a two-week break before resuming action April 4-8 for the men’s-only event in Doha, Qatar.

Before returning to Brazil for the Fortaleza Open at the end of April, two double-gender events will be staged in China at Xiamen (April 12-17) and Fuzhou (April 19-24).


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