Canadians Bansley/Wilkerson and local heroes Kantor/Losiak take Warsaw gold
It is the first FIVB World Tour double-gender event in Poland’s capital and Warsaw’s Monta Beach Volley Club actually offers a great setting for a 4-star event bringing together most of the world’s top beach volleyball players. The courts are located on an island in the Wisla river and the location has a familiar and almost intimate atmosphere. Visitors can stroll across Monta Beach Volley Club while watching World Champions warm up, sit in the restaurant enjoying lunch with a coach or chatting up a player at the coffee bar.
This relaxed and laid-back atmosphere is only interrupted on a busy Saturday that starts at 8:30am and rushes the players into a tight time schedule. In the men’s competition, the pool winners of the group stage have the day off on Friday but need to play three matches on Saturday in case they make it to the semifinals. Especially local heroes and top-seeds Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak have a tough Saturday with three tie-break battles against Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Igor Velichko (Russia), Czech Republic’s Ondrej Perusic and David Schweiner and strong Dutchmen Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen.
In a close and dramatic final they beat Brazilian top team Vitor Felipe and Evandro in another tie-break fight 2:1 (27:29, 21:13, 15:12). For Kantor/Losiak it is the second gold medal after winning in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. 11 times the Polish duo had reached a World Tour podium before (6 silver, 5 bronze) but now had been waiting for more than 2 years for another gold. Having lost an extended first set, they managed a great comeback supported by an enthusiastic Polish crowd. Losiak after match:
“It feels amazing. This is the second gold in our career. We’ve been waiting for it for two years. I hope the next one will be sooner than that. I also want to say ‘thank you’ to the Polish fans.”
Vitor Felipe/Evandro had won their first and only World Tour gold at the Berlin Grand Slam in 2013. In 2014, they had split up and only reunited a few weeks ago after major upheavals had occurred among the Brazilian top teams. In between, Evandro had claimed the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship title together with Andre Loyola. Before reaching the final, Vitor Felipe and Evandro had eliminated Norwegian youngsters Anders Berntsen Mol and Christian Sandlie Sorum who had impressed with a 2-set win (21:15, 21:8) against Olympic Champion Bruno Schmidt and Pedro Solberg the day before. In an all-Brazilian quarterfinal clash, Evandro/Vitor Felipe claimed a win against compatriots Alison Cerutti and Andre Loyola Stein before beating Latvians Janis Smedins and Aleksandrs Samoilovs in the semifinals. The Latvians claimed bronze against Brouwer/Meeuwsen in the bronze medal match.
On the women’s side it is the first World Tour gold for Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson who had just won silver in Ostrava one week ago. The Canadians posted a straigt two-set win against Laboureur/Sude from Germany (21:17, 21:17). Before the fourth-seeded Bansley and Wilkerson had taken revenge for their defeat in the Ostrava final by posting a quarterfinal win over Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova (Czech Republic). In the semifinals, the Canadians claimed a quick and easy 2-set win against Americans Brittany Hochevar and Kelly Claes (21:17, 21:12). Brandie Wilkerson who won her first gold on her 26th birthday:
“This is the most amazing birthday gift I can imagine. I get this medal with someone I spend every day with and it is so important to me. It is going to be a big, a double celebration.”
Silver went to Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude who had already won 8 World Tour medals before, two of them gold. They just recently claimed bronze at Huntington Beach. On their way to the final, Laboureur and Sude had posted major wins against strong Brazilian teams. In the quarterfinals, the Germans beat Barbara/Fernanda and in the seminfinals they claimed a victory over sixth-seeded Agatha/Duda who finally won the bronze medal.
The World Tour will continue this week with a 4-star event at Espinho (Portugal).