Men’s pool play nets six undefeated teams at FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam

Lausanne, Switzerland, June 18, 2015 — Led by six undefeated teams following the last of three pool play matches Thursday, 24 men’s teams advanced from round-robin pool play Thursday to Friday’s first three rounds of single-elimination matches at the double-gender $800,000 FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam. The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is in the USA for the first time in 2015 as the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is visiting the United States for the 12th time overall and the state of Florida for the third time.

This week’s FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam started with men’s qualifying on Tuesday continued with men’s pool play Wednesday as well as women’s qualifying on Wednesday followed by the start of women’s pool play on Thursday. The men’s quarterfinals will be held Friday, semifinals and medal matches on Saturday and women’s quarterfinals on Saturday with their semifinals and medal matches on Sunday. The tournament format has a one-day qualification tournament to determine the final eight spots in each gender’s 32-team main draw tournaments followed by round-robin pool play and a single-elimination bracket for the final 24 teams.

In addition to the international broadcast, NBC TV will air live beach action in the USA on Saturday and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET and on the NBC Sports Network on Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.

Advancing Thursday from pool play, winning the eight four-team pools to advance three knockout rounds on Friday were two teams each from Brazil and one team each from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland.

The eight teams who won their respective pools to earn a bye in the first round of single elimination were Poland’s top-seeded Mariusz Prudel/Grzegorz Fijalek, Netherlands’ third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst, Brazil’s fifth-seeded Ricardo Santos/Emanuel Rego, Brazil’s sixth-seeded Bruno Oscar Schmidt/Alison Cerutti, USA’s eighth-seeded Jack Gibb/Casey Patterson, Germany’s 15th-seeded Alexander Walkenhorst/Stefan Windscheif, Australia’s 20th-seeded Christopher McHugh/Isaac Kapa and USA’s 26th-seeded Nick Lucena/Theodore Brunner.

Ending pool play with unblemished 3-0 marks heading into the knockout rounds were Poland’s Purdel/Fijalek, Netherland’s Nummerdor/Varenhorst, Brazil’s Ricardo/Emanuel, Brazil’s Schmidt/Cerutti, USA’s Gibb/Patterson and USA’s Lucena/Brunner. The other three pool winners were all 2-1 and won their respective pools via tie-breakers.

Besides the Australia’s 20th-seeded McHugh/Kapa, earning the other seed breakthrough to win their pool with two victories on Wednesday and one on Thursday was USA’s Lucena/Brunner. The USA tandem first stopped Austria’s seventh-seeded Clemens Doppler/Alexander Horst in straight sets, 21-17, 21-18 in 44 minutes and capped their successful day by winning again in two sets, this time over Canada’s 10th-seeded Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton, 21-17, 21-14 in 36 minutes. On Thursday, they ended their pool play sweep by winning by injury forfeit over Switzerland’s 23rd-seeded Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson.

After winning their team’s third and final pool play match Thursday over USA’s 14th-seeded John Hyden/Tri Bourne, 21-18, 21-18 in 47 minutes, Netherlands’ Nummerdor reflected on himself and Christiaan Varenhorst’s progression in the tournament.

Nummerdor, a veteran Dutch Olympian said afterwards, "I think the level of the game was not so high, to be honest. Maybe because of the first game, or the weather, I don't know, but I think both teams didn't play great. Technically we played just a little bit better, they made some more errors, and that was the difference. With really cold towels, pre-cooling before the game, after-cooling also we helped keep our body temperatures down. Drinking a lot, staying hydrated, is the only thing you can do. I think our side out at the moment is not good enough to go really far in the tournament, but we are working on it. I am happy about our block defense play."

Turkey’s Volkan Gogtepe/Murat Giginoglu finished second in their pool behind Germany’s Walkenhorst/Winddscheif after winning their final match on Thursday over Brazil’s Gustavo Carvalhaes/Allison Francioni in three sets, 21-19, 19-21 and 15-11 in 64 minutes.

Following their final victory, Giginoglu commented, “The Brazilian team is a young but very strong team.  Our first game against Germany on Wednesday, we didn’t play good, and we lose 2-0.  Then we play Brazil today and play much better, we win 2-0.  Now we play the Brazilians again – this is a good team, good match.  We win and are very happy.

This weather is too hot, but we’re fighting.  Last week Stavanger it was too cold, now we come here and it is too hot, but it doesn’t matter, I like the USA. Next we just concentrate on every game.  Doesn’t matter which team we face, we concentrate and we keep fighting.”

The gold medal team in the FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam will split $57,000, the silver $43,000, the bronze $32,000 and fourth place $24,000. The men’s semifinals and medal matches and the women’s quarterfinal matches will all be played on Saturday with the women’s semifinals and medal matches on Sunday.

Following this week’s event, the FIVB will return to the USA twice more in 2015 with the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam Aug. 18-23 in Southern California and the $500,000 Swatch FIVB World Tour Season Final in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Sept. 29-Oct. 4.

The FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam is the 320th men’s event since the FIVB began men’s competition in 1987 and the 284th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.


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