The Hague, The Netherlands, July 5, 2015 - Playing for world championship medals was “icing on the cake” for Brazilians Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt and Americans Theo Brunner/Nick Lucena as their “final four” appearances in the 2015 “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships improved their status on FIVB World Tour.
When Alison/Bruno and Brunner/Lucena entered the world championships, the pairs were ranked 14th and 17th, respectively, on the 2015 FIVB World Tour. With the Brazilians topping the podium and the Americans placing fourth, the two teams are now fifth and 10th internationally heading into the next world tour stop this coming week in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad.
After placing fourth in the Russian Grand Slam in their first event this season, Alison and Bruno posted a 17th and two ninths to fall in the FIVB World Tour rankings. The Brazilians were third on the 2014 international circuit behind Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins of Latvia and Phil Dalhausser/Sean Rosenthal of the United States with a gold medal, four medals and five “final four” finishes to their credit.
“We knew we were a better team that what we were accomplishing,” said the 28-year old Bruno, the nephew of the legendary Brazilian basketball player Oscar Schmidt. “The key was that we did not panic and we keep playing just one match at a time seeking to get better with each serve and set. We played much better in the world championships due to being relaxed and confident in our abilities.”
The world championship appearance was the 29-year old Alison’s fourth as he has now collected two golds and a silver. He captured the Rome 2011 gold medal with Emanuel Rego as the pair placed fourth in Stare Jablonki world championships. In his first world championships in 2009, he placed second with Harley Marques after losing the finale to Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann of Germany.
Bruno was also playing in his fourth world championship as he was 17th in 2009 (Joao Maciel), ninth in 2009 (Benjamin Insfran) and fifth in 2013 (Pedro Solberg). Bruno and Pedro, who won a gold medal at the 2006 FIVB under-21 world championships in Poland, won two FIVB World Tour events together highlighted by a 2013 win in The Hague.
Despite losing their final two matches in The Hague, Brunner and Lucena were perfect in the Amsterdam portion of the world championships where the Americans captured their pool and won three elimination matches over pairs from Germany, Brazil and Qatar. Highlighting the Amsterdam run was a three-set victory over legendary Brazilians Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos.
Brunner and Lucena entered the world championships after placing third in the United States Grand Slam in St. Petersburg where they upset Brazilians Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg in a “Sweet 16" match. The two teams played for a world championship medal Sunday with Evandro and Pedro posting a 2-0 (22-20, 21-13) win in 39 minutes. The Americans also lost to Alison and Bruno in the semi-finals.
Prior to St. Petersburg, Brunner and Lucena were stuck playing in FIVB World Tour qualifiers as the pair placed 25th in their first two events this season in Russia and Croatia before improving to 17th in Norway. Entering 2015 as the fourth-ranked American team, Brunner and Lucena must also play in the qualifier this coming week in Switzerland starting Wednesday in the Alps village of Gstaad.
Other pairs posting placements to better their ranking on the 2015 FIVB World Tour were Jefferson Santos Pereira/Cherif Younousse of Qatar (no. 71 to No. 35), Oleg Stoyanovskiy/Artem Yarzutkin of Russia (No. 49 to No. 36), the Grimalt cousins (Esteban Grimalt/Marco) of Chile (No. 30 to No. 25), Vitor Felipe/ Alvaro Filho of Brazil (No. 24 to No. 20) and Philip Gabathuler/Mirco Gerson of Switzerland (No. 27 to No. 23).
The fifth-place finish by Jefferson and Younousse was the best-ever by the country on the FIVB World as the pair was eliminated by Brunner and Lucena (2-0, 21-19, 21-19) in the Amsterdam quarter-finals. The 20-year old Younousse was one of the youngest men’s player in the event at 20 as he was playing in only his fourth FIVB World Tour event.
Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin won the gold medal last August at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China. The pair won one of three pool play matches with setbacks to top-10 ranked pairs of Reindeer Nummerdor/Christiaan Varenhorst of The Netherlands, Pablo Herrera/Adrian Gavira of Spain and Emanuel/Ricardo.