Porec, Croatia, June 7, 2015 - With the temperature nearing 40° degrees Celsius (over 100° Fahrenheit), teams from Canada, Italy and the Netherlands competed for the medals at the US$800,000 Porec Open with the reigning FIVB “senior” world champions surviving the heat to top the podium at the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event.
Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who will open defense of their world title later this month in The Netherlands, out-lasted the field that featured compatriots Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst, Canadians Josh Binstock/Sam Schachter and Italians Adrian Carambula/Alex Ranghieri.
In winning their second FIVB World Tour gold medal after failing in three previous attempts after netting the world title in 2013 at Stare Jablonki, Brouwer and Meeuwsen posted a 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) win in 40 minutes over Binstock and Schachter. Both teams were meeting for the first time on the international circuit as both pairs were also seeking their second FIVB gold medal.
The Dutch were frustrated twice this season in FIVB World Tour finales in China (Fuzhou) and Switzerland (Lucerne). The first disappointment was losing to a German pair in China while Meeuwsen’s knee problems forced him from playing the Lucerne gold medal match with Brouwer against Ranghieri and former partner Marco Caminati.
With the win, the 11th-seeded Brouwer and Meeuwsen share the $57,000 first-place prize along with earned 800 points that will count towards their qualifying efforts for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In becoming the first Canadian men’s team to medal at a FIVB “major” event in nearly 18 years, Binstock and Schachter split $43,000 and gathered 720 points for their Olympic bid.
Brouwer and Meeuwsen advanced to their fifth gold medal finale by posting a 2-1 (18-21, 21-17, 15-9) semi-final win in 57 minutes over Carambula and Ranghieri. It was the first meeting between the two teams as the Italians were playing together in their second FIVB World Tour event.
Playing in their 42nd FIVB World Tour event with a 113-74 match mark, Brouwer and Meeuwsen were playing in their sixth FIVB World Tour “final four” with the semi-final victory netting the Dutch their fifth international medal. As for “majors”, Brouwer and Meeuwsen now have with three podium placements on their ledger. Their last appearance was a silver medal finish at the 2013 China Grand Slam in Xiamen where Brouwer and Meeuwsen dropped the finale to Alison Cerutti and Vitor Felipe of Brazil.
Binstock and Schachter rallied from a first set setback to score a 2-1 (21-23, 21-18, 15-13) victory over Nummerdor and Varenhorst in a 64-minute semi-final match. The win avenged a semi-final setback to the Dutch in last September’s Brazilian Grand Slam in São Paulo where the Canadians missed an opportunity to medal by finishing fourth.
The last time a Canadian team placed on the podium in a “major” FIVB event was 1997 when John Child and Mark Heese claimed the bronze medal at an event in Espinho, Portugal.
Sunday’s finale was Binstock and Schachter’s third gold medal match on the FIVB World Tour. After placing fourth in São Paulo, the Canadians captured an “open” gold (Paraná, Argentina) and silver (Doha, Qatar) medals in their final two starts in 2014. With the Porec Major Binstock and Schachter’s 11th international event, the pair has a 37-22 match mark.
In the bronze medal match, Carambula and Ranghieri defeated the sixth-seeded Nummerdor and Varenhorst 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 15-10) in 56 minutes. After winning two qualifying matches Wednesday, the Italians became the fourth lowest-seeded team (31st) in a FIVB men’s Main Draw to medal. The Italians split $32,000 for third-place along with earning 640 point while Nummerdor and Varenhorst sharing $24,000 and netting 560 points.
The three pairs seeded 32nd to reach a FIVB World Tour podium were Eduardo Bacil/Jose Loiola of Brazil (1997 at Rio de Janeiro, silver), Dax Holdren/Todd Rogers of United States (2000 at Rosarito, Mexico, gold) and Alexander Huber/Robin Seidl of Austria (2013 at Fuzhou, bronze).
Following this and next week’s SWATCH Major Series event in Norway, 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 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in The Netherlands (June 26-July 5).