Porec, Croatia, July 8, 2018 - Vladyslav Iemelianchyk and Sergiy Popov recovered from a first-round pool play setback Friday to win five-straight Porec Open matches to capture the Ukraine's first-ever men's or women's gold medal on the FIVB World Tour.
Seeded ninth in the Porec Open, Iemelianchyk and Popov completed their five-matching winning streak by upsetting top-seeded Simon Fruhbauer and Jorg Wutzl of Austria 2-1 (21-19, 17-21, 21-19) here Sunday in the 53-minute gold medal match.
With the men's international circuit starting in 1987 and women's play beginning in 1992, the best-ever finishes for the Ukraine were a 2008 women's silver for Svitlana Baburina/Galyna Osheyko in Klagenfurt, Austria, and a bronze by Oleksii Denin/Denys Denysenko earlier this season (June 3) in Alanya, Turkey.
Iemelianchyk and Popov's best previous FIVB finish together was a fifth in Turkey at the start of June in Alanya, started this week with a 7-8 World Tour match mark. Entering the Porec finale, the Austrians had 20 of 29 World Tour matches this season highlighted by an April 29 gold medal win in Langkawi, Malaysia.
The Porec Open men's podium with Austrians, Ukrainians and Latvians
To reach the men's finale, Iemelianchyk and Popov Ukraine defeated fifth-seeded Mihails Samoilovs/Kristaps Smits of Latvia 2-0 (21-16, 21-16) in Sunday's second semi-final match in 32 minutes. Fruhbauer and Wutzl advanced to their second FIVB gold medal match with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) win in 29 minutes over sixth-seeded Haralds Regza/Toms Smedins of Latvia.
In the All-Latvian bronze medal match, Regza and Smedins defeated Samoilovs and Smits 2-0 (21-14, 25-23) in 34 minutes. The win lifted Smedins to his first-ever World Tour podium appearance while Regza was securing his second FIVB World Tour medal after placing third in with Martins Plavins at the 2015 Antalya Open in Turkey.
The Porec Open is the sixth of nine events incorporated from the European Volleyball Confederation (CEV) schedule into the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour for the 2017-2018 season. At the same time as the Porec Open is being staged, the CEV and FIVB will also be organizing the Anapa Open in Russia.
Turkey staged three of the first four events in Aydin (May 17-20), Alanya (May 31-June 3) and Manavgat, Turkey (June 21-24) with Austria hosting a tournament in Baden (June 14-17). Remaining CEV events being incorporated into the 2017-2018 FIVB World Tour schedule are Samsun, Turkey (July 26-29), Ljubljana, Slovenia (August 3-5), and Vaduz, Liechtenstein (August 8-12).