Stavanger, Norway, June 12, 2015 - Most Brazil versus United States matches on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour are interesting and Friday’s meeting between South Americans Emanuel Rego/Ricardo Santos against North Americans Sean Rosenthal/Stafford Slick proved to be one of those “important” confrontations here Friday at the US$800,000 Stavanger Major.
Friday’s match was not a gold medal encounter where the two countries have met 59 times for the top spot on the men’s FIVB World Tour podium with the Americans winning 30 times. The Stavanger Major match was just a simple pool play engagement where the fifth-seeded Emanuel and Ricardo had to win to have the opportunity to advance to Saturday’s opening elimination round in the second of three SWATCH Major Series events this season.
Emanuel and Ricardo’s 2-0 (21-18, 23-21) win in 44 minutes over the 12th-seeded Rosenthal and Slick was the Brazilians first victory of the Stavanger Major and secured a spot in Saturday’s elimination rounds while the Americans were ousted from the competition. Playing in their 93rd FIVB-sanctioned event, Friday’s win was Emanuel and Ricardo’s 459th international triumph together (568 total matches, 80.8 percent).
By the slimmest margin, Emanuel and Ricardo advanced as Pool E’s second-place team where three teams tied with 1-2 records after each was defeated in group play by 21st-seeded Viacheslav Krasilnikov and Konstantin Semenov of Russia. In breaking the deadlock with the Americans and 28th-seeded Isaac Kapa and Christopher McHugh of Australia, Emanuel and Ricardo had a better point ratio among the three pairs with the Aussies second and Rosenthal/Slick ousted from the competition.
By avoiding elimination in their 14th appearance on the Vagen Harbor dockside courts, Emanuel and Ricardo still have an opportunity to win their fifth gold medal together in the Norwegian “oil” capital. The Brazilians sandwiched four-straight Stavanger titles (2003-2006) between their gold medal efforts at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
Both Emanuel and Ricardo have captured other Stavanger gold medals with other partners. Emanuel and Jose Loiola stepped atop the inaugural podium in 1999 with Tande Ramos joining the legendary Brazilian for gold medal wins in 2001 and 2002.
Ricardo and ZeMarco de Melo netted the 2000 Stavanger crown and Marcio Araujo was his winning partner in 2011. That was the same year that Emanuel and Alison Cerutti won the FIVB World Championships in Rome by defeating Ricardo and Marcio Araujo in the finale.
The Netherlands, which will be hosting the FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships later this month at four sites in the European country, and Poland had two group winners Friday. Third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst (Pool C) and fourth-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen (Pool D) were the Dutch pool winners.
The reigning world champions, Brouwer and Meeuwsen have now won eight-straight matches on the FIVB World Tour with one of the victories in the gold medal match last week at the Porec Major in Croatia. The Dutch defeated 13th-seeded Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira of Spain 2-0 (32-30, 21-17) in 44 minutes Friday. The Spaniards netted the gold medal two weeks ago in Moscow.
Winning groups for Poland were second-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel (Pool B) and 25th-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak (Pool H). Fijalek and Prudel won their group out-right with a 3-0 record. Kantor and Losiak lost Friday to 24th-seeded Theo Brunner/Nick Lucena of the United States, but had the tie-breaking advantage over the Americans and eighth-seeded Geir Eithun/Iver Horrem of Norway.
Other group winners were sixth-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany (Pool F), seventh-seeded and Moscow finalists Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Salgado of Brazil (Pool G) and 16th-seeded Daniel Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy (Pool A). The Italians won all three of their group matches, including a 2-1 (21-18, 14-21, 15-13) win in 47 minutes over top-seeded Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil.
The Stavanger Major concludes with gold medal matches for both men and women. The semi-finals and medal matches for the women will be played Saturday while the men face three rounds of elimination competition to set the field for the “final four” contests Sunday. This week’s gold medal teams will share the $57,000 first-place prize along with earning 800 points that will count towards the qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Following this week’s SWATCH Major Series event, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for an event in the United States in St. Petersburg, Fla. The June schedule ends with the start of the world championships in The Netherlands. Being played at four sites, world championships start (June 26) and end (with the medal matches July 4 for women and July 5 for men) in The Hague.