Beach volleyball journalists must be running out of superlatives when it comes to portraying the gradually spreading winning streak of Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. Following their triumph at the inaugural Olsztyn Grand Slam in Poland this weekend, the Brazilians have made it five in a row now.
Poland has been a dream location for any type of volleyball over the years, with the country happy to have organized the recent men’s 2014 indoor World Championship, the 2013 Beach Volleyball World Championship, and a series of age-divided youth and junior planetary competitions. And while Stare Jablonki and Myslowice are the two most famous beach volleyball destinations around, the city of Olsztyn in north-eastern Poland made its debut as a World Tour stop.
The energetic Polish crowd compensated for the lack of local teams on the final day with support for the most spectacular twosome on international stage lately. It was a splendid week for Alison-Bruno not only because they continued their international dominance but also because they were granted the first Brazilian quota for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The newly crowned world champions enjoyed another perfect tournament, having finished it with an unscathed 7-0 record, but this time they were seriously challenged by the Canadians Schalk-Saxton in the first semifinal on Sunday morning. In a repetition of the Japanese Yokohama Grand Slam final, the Brazilians were trailing by a set and 17-19 in the second one and things were rapidly approaching a sensational outcome. However, Alison Cerutti’s contribution was made obvious when he scored three straight stuff blocks to close the set 21-19. From then on the match was no longer an issue for Alison-Bruno (19-21, 21-19, 15-9).
The gold medal encounter lacked such a dramatic finish. The Brazilians made it five tournament wins in a row by crushing Gibb-Patterson in straight sets (21-10, 21-15). The Americans, winners of the St. Petersburg Grand Slam in the USA, were perhaps exhausted after the devastating semifinal victory over Germany’s Erdmann-Matysik (30-28, 19-21, 15-10).
“It has come at an excellent time because it is the Olympic qualifying period,” Bruno said. “We feel really well and played very well in this tournament and continued to raise our level right to the end.”
“We knew it was going to be like this because those guys (Schalk-Saxton) are having a great tournament here,” Bruno commented after the semifinal win. “They beat Ricardo-Emanuel and they have improved massively in the last few tournaments.”
The Canadians Schalk-Saxton, who were slotted as Canada’s second-best team heading into 2015 after Binstock-Schachter’s great 2014 season, appeared for the second time on a podium this summer thanks to a 2-0 win versus Erdmann-Matyisk (21-17, 21-18). These results will give them a huge advantage of keeping their position among the best eight in the world ranking and eventually earning a berth for the Swatch Major Series Finals in Fort Lauderdale at the end of September. Schalk-Saxton solidified themselves as one of the world’s up-and-coming teams in 2015.
“They (Erdmann-Matysik) always play tough against us and we’ve taken our time to figure them out, plus we are playing a higher level than we have in the past,” Chaim Schalk said. “Our coach Jason Lochhead has been incredible for us. We’ve been in California with a lot of the USA team, it has been a gradual process, but it is going our way.”
The Germans could not build on their bronze-medal finish at the Moscow Grand Slam earlier this year and stepped out of the podium in Olsztyn. Injuries prevented Kay Matysik from showing up his potential on several occasions in 2015 and as a result the bronze medallists from the 2013 World Championship, who seem to find Polish sands a favourite beach volleyball location, could have demanded more from their campaign.