Italian Men Become “Major” Story

Stavanger, Norway, June 13, 2015 - For the second-straight week, an Italian team that had to qualify for the Main Draw at a SWATCH Major Series event has advanced to the men’s “final four” as the Ingrosso twins won three-straight elimination matches here Saturday in the US$800,000 Stavanger.

By upsetting fifth-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil 2-0 (21-17, 21-13) in 35 minutes, the 29th-seeded Ingrossos (Matteo and Paolo) have advanced to their second FIVB World Tour semi-final while netting their first-ever “final four” placement in a “big” international event.

Last week in Croatia at the inaugural Porec Major, Adrian Carambula and Alex Ranghieri collected a bronze medal for Italy after qualifying for the Main Draw.  This week, Carambula and Ranghieri were eliminated by a German team in Wednesday’s qualifying rounds while the Ingrossos were successful with a pair of three-set wins over teams from Norway and Mexico

With the Stavanger Major being the twins’ 52nd world tour event, the Ingrossos had previously reached the quarter-finals only four times with their only victory in the “Elite Eight” coming last year in Mexico when the Italians placed second in an “open” event in Puerto Vallarta.  To open play Saturday, the Ingrossos eliminated pairs from the United States and Russia.

The 27-year old Italians, who benefited from a forfeit in pool play Friday to advance to the elimination rounds, will be joined in Sunday’s final matches by two teams from Poland and seventh-seeded Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Salgado of Brazil.  The Polish pairs are second-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek/Mariusz Prudel and 25th-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak, who also won two qualifying matches Wednesday.

Sunday’s first-semi-final will feature Fijalek and Prudel against Evandro and Salgado while the other Polish pair will play the Ingrossos.  While the Pole-Brazil meeting will be the first FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams as Evandro and Salgado are playing in only their third international together, the Ingrossos lead the series with Kantor/Losiak 2-1 with a qualifying win two weeks ago over the Poles in Russia.

With Poland having two teams in a FIVB World Tour semi-final for the first-time, Fijalek and  Prudel ousted sixth-seeded Jonathan Erdmann/Kay Matysik of Germany 2-1 (18-21, 21-19, 15-13) in 55 minutes while Kantor and Losiak reached the semi-finals with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-18, 15-9) victory in 48 minutes over 18th-seeded Youssef Krou/Edouard Rowlandson of France.

In the final center court match after an All-Brazilian women’s gold medal finale, Evandro and Salgado eliminated third-seeded Reinder Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands 2-1 (14-21, 21-11, 15-10) in 41 minutes.  While the other three teams will be playing in their first semi-final this season, Evandro and Salgado played in the “final four” two weeks ago in Russia where they netted the silver medal.

With the 15th FIVB World Tour in the Norwegian “oil” capital concluding Sunday with the “final four” matches, men’s gold medal team 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.  With Poland guaranteed a medal, the second-place team splits $43,000 while third nets $32,000 and fourth shares $24,000.

In the women’s gold medal match Saturday before the men’s quarter-final matches, fourth-seeded Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli won their first “big” title on the FIVB World Tour by defeating Brazilian rivals Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in 40 minutes.  Second-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands claimed the bronze medal with a 2-0 (24-2, 21-16) win in 43 minutes over 12th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.

Following the completion Sunday of the second of three SWATCH Major Series events this season, 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.


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