Stavanger, Norway, June 14, 2015 - With Norwegian roots and a tall partner, Pedro Solberg Salgado was on a mission this week to win his first medal on the Vagen Harbor center court.
Mission accomplished as Pedro achieved the goal with Evandro Goncalves (211 cm, 6’11’) by winning the first of two semi-final matches here Sunday morning at the US$800,000 Stavanger Major.
Seeded seventh in the competition, Pedro and Evandro opened play Sunday with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-16) win in 39 minutes over second-seeded Grzegorz Fijalek and Mariusz Prudel of Poland to advance to their second FIVB World Tour gold medal match since starting their international partnership three weeks ago in Moscow where the Brazilians dropped the finale to a team from Spain.
With their 14th world tour win in 20 FIVB matches this season, Pedro and Evandro will meet 25th-seeded Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak, the second team from Poland in the Stavanger Major “final four”. The 23-year old Poles advanced to their first FIVB World Tour gold medal match by posting a 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) in 36 minutes over the 29th-seeded Ingrosso (Matteo and Paolo) twins of Italy.
Sunday’s finale will be the first meeting between the two teams as Pedro and Evandro are only playing in their third FIVB World Tour event with a silver medal finish two weeks ago in the Moscow Grand Slam and a fifth-place last week in Croatia at the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event in Porec.
With the Stavanger Major being the 319th FIVB World Tour event since the start of men’s play in 1987, Brazil will be seeking their 174th gold medal as compared to Poland vying for their second. Fijalek and Prudel captured Poland’s first-ever FIVB World Tour title last season in The Hague. In the only title meeting between Brazil and Poland on the FIVB circuit, Marcio Araujo and Ricardo defeated Fijalek and Prudel in the 2011 Stavanger finale.
Both teams enter the Stavanger Major gold medal match with one defeat in the competition during pool play. Pedro and Evandro dropped their first match Thursday to a team from Germany, but rebounded to capture the group. Kantor and Losiak had to win two qualifying matches Wednesday and posted a 2-1 pool mark with their only setback to an American pair after the Poles had already secured the group title.
Pedro, who has a Norwegian father and a legendary Brazilian Volleyball player as a mother, had never finished higher than fifth in Stavanger in seven previous appearances. Pedro’s fifth occurred with Emanuel Rego last season. With Emanuel reuniting with Ricardo Santos at the end of last season, Pedro started playing with Evandro as the team partnership is not typical as both competitors are natural blockers.
A regular on the international circuit since 2006 with the Stavanger Major being his 115th FIVB World Tour event, the 29-year old Pedro will be seeking his 15th gold medal. The 24-year old Evandro started playing full-time on the FIVB in 2012 with Stavanger being his 36th tour stop. Evandro teamed with Vitor Felipe to win the 2013 German Grand Slam in Berlin.
Kantor and Losiak, winners of three international junior world championships (2010 under-19, 2012 under-21 and 2013 under-23) are playing in their 34th FIVB World Tour with their best previous finish being a third last September at the Brazilian Grand Slam in Sáo Paulo. The Poles first played on the FIVB World Tour in 2009 and have compiled a 56-54 match mark. With the 15th FIVB World Tour in the Norwegian “oil” capital concluding Sunday with the men’s finale, the winning team will share the $57,000 first-place prize along with earning 800 points that will count towards the qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. With Poland guaranteed a medal, the second-place team splits $43,000 while third nets $32,000 and fourth shares $24,000.
In the women’s gold medal match Saturday, fourth-seeded Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli won their first “big” title on the FIVB World Tour by defeating Brazilian rivals Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in 40 minutes. Second-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands claimed the bronze medal with a 2-0 (24-2, 21-16) win in 43 minutes over 12th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst.
Following the completion Sunday of the second of three SWATCH Major Series events this season, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for an event in the United States in St. Petersburg, Fla. The June schedule ends with the start of the world championships in The Netherlands. Being played at four sites, world championships start (June 26) and end (with the medal matches July 4 for women and July 5 for men) in The Hague.