American & Brazilians net pool titles at Fort Lauderdale Major


With American partner Nick Lucena (left) following the action, Phil Dalhausser (centre) blocks against Canadian Grand O'Gorman in Thursday's final match at night at the Fort Lauderdale Major

Fort Lauderdale, USA, March 1, 2018 - Two teams each from Brazil and the United States captured pool titles here on Thursday at the $600,000 Fort Lauderdale Major where pairs from Italy, Poland, Russia and Spain secured the top spot in their groups at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.

With play continuing through the weekend with the women’s medal matches on Saturday and the men’s podium placement contests on Sunday, Rio 2016 Olympic champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and 2017 Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals winners Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena head the list of eight pool winners.

Seeded first in Pool A, the top-seeded Dalhausser and Lucena captured Pool A by defeating 17th-seeded Grant O'Gorman/Ben Saxton of Canada 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) in 33 minutes to conclude Thursday’s 32-match schedule. The Americans also played in Wednesday’s last match defeating a team from Norway in two sets.

Alison and Bruno captured Pool F as the sixth-seeded Brazilians posted a 2-0 (21-18, 21-18) win in 38 minutes over 11th-seeded Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands. It was the ninth FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams with Alison and Bruno winning seven times, including a semifinal win over the Dutch at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The biggest upset on Thursday was in Pool B where 18th-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb of the United States posted a 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) win in 35 minutes over second-seeded Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola of Brazil, the reigning FIVB world champions and silver medal winners at the 2017 Fort Lauderdale Major.

“It is a lot of praying, hoping, begging,” said the 42-year Gibb in talking about handling Evandro’s serve. “He’s the best server in the world and you just have to try and deal with it. He’s pretty lights out.” Gibb added his team “is pretty confident. It’s an important win, but it’s one win in a long list of wins we need, I think we need four more to win this thing.”

Joining Alison and Bruno as the other Brazilian pool winner were ninth-seeded Pedro Solberg and George Wanderley, who posted a Pool H win over eighth-seeded Martins Plavins and Edgars Tocs of Latvia 2-1 (21-12, 17-21, 19-17) in 49 minutes. The Latvians had placed first and second in their first two FIVB events this season at World Tour stops in the Netherlands and Iran, respectively.

“I expected a close match,” said Solberg. “Martins is a great player, especially in difficult conditions like this when it's windy. You must have a lot of ball control and Martins is a master at that. Today my block was really good and that helped.”

Other group winners on Thursday were third-seeded Piotr Kantor/Bartosz Losiak of Poland (Pool C), fifth-seeded Daniele Lupo/Paolo Nicolai of Italy (Pool E), 13th-seeded Adrian Gavira/Pablo Herrera of Spain (Pool D) and 23rd-seeded Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Igor Velichko of Russia (Pool G).