Seevnth-seeded Michal Bryl and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland defeated Mexico’s Josue Gaxiola and Jose Rubio 16-21, 21-19, 15-11 Friday at the FIVB four-star beach volleyball tournament in Doha, Qatar.
It’s the pair’s first gold on the world tour, improving upon their previous silver at the 2018 Vienna five-star. The gold medal is Fijalek’s second, with a previous win with Mariusz Prudel in The Hague 2014.
The Poles thwarted the Mexican’s bid to earn their country’s first gold medal. They came out of the qualifier to earn their first FIVB medal in the pair’s second world tour event. They finished 17th in Chetumal.
Relatively unknown, Gaxiola-Rubio have competed in 12 events on the NORCECA tour, with a gold medal in Bonaire and silvers in Punta Cana (twice) and Guatemala City.
Mexico won the first set on the strength of Rubio’s active blocking, but the Poles recovered with their varied offense and tough serving.
In the third set, Poland built a 12-8 lead, but Mexico made a comeback bid before Bryl blocked a Rubio shot to go up 13-11.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Fijalek said, “but we’re very, very happy to win. We were very nervous. The young boys, they have a good flow, they played great this week. It’s our first gold medal and we hope we hope we can keep our level up in the next tournament.”
Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo won the bronze medal with a 21-19, 21-17 win over Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Bruno Oscar Schmidt. The Italians and two-time Olympians have already earned their 2020 Olympic berth, winning the Olympic qualifier in Haiyang, China.
In previous semifinal action, Bryl and Fijalek defeated Nicolai and Lupo 28-26, 21-18, while Gaxiola and Rubio edged Goncalves and Schmidt 22-20, 22-20.
The World Tour now moves to Coolangatta, Australia, for a three-star event that starts Tuesday.