Pedro Solberg and Gustavo Carvalhaes of Brazil won the FIVB Porec gold medal on Sunday.

The hard way.

Solberg and Carvalhaes became only the second men’s team to win a country-quota match, get through the qualification rounds and then win an international event. The first were countrymen Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes, who won the Zagreb event in 2005.

Sunday in Croatia, Brazil won gold and bronze medals. In the title match, Solberg and Carvalhaes beat Italians Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo 18-21, 25-23, 15-9 after a rain delay. Solberg and Carvalhaes bank $40,000, while Nicolai and Lupo’s share is $32,000.

Gustavo Carvalhaes (left) and Pedro Solberg became the second team to come out of a country quota match to win an international event/FIVB photo

Solberg and Carvalhaes defeated Russians Oleg Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin 21-15, 21-16 in the semifinals.

The “other” Brazilians, Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, lost a three-setter to the the team they beat in last summer’s Olympic gold-medal final, Nicolai and Lupo 17-21, 21-17, 15-11. Cerutti and Schmidt then won the bronze medal by beating Stoyanovskiy and Yarzutkin 21-15, 21-18 to earn $20,000 to the Russians’ $16,000.

The quality and caliber of the Brazilian contingent is such that their fourth-ranked men’s team needed three sets Wednesday to overcome Brazilian Vitor Felipe and George Wanderley (15-21, 21-19, 15-9), yet then went on to win a five-star event. After qualifying, Solberg and Carvalhaes’ points made them the ninth seed in the tournament, despite being the fourth Brazilian team.

Brazil’s massive firepower includes No. 1 Saymon Barbosa and Alvaro Filho (winners of the Fort Lauderdale five-star event), No. 4 Evandro Goncalves and Andre Loyola (second in Fort Lauderdale), of course Cerutti and Schmidt and now the newest five-star champions in Solberg and Carvalhaes. In other words, Brazil had four of the top nine men’s teams in the tournament.

And Solberg and Carvalhaes had little time to celebrate. They had to leave Porec in a hurry to get to Gstaad, Switzerland, for the final five-star event of the year. What’s more, the victory didn’t help their status, since they will have to play yet another country-quota match Monday against Vitor Felipe and George Wanderley.

Americans Emily Day and Brittany Hochevar play a country-quota match against Kim DiCello and Emily Stockman.

Americans already in the main draw include fifth-seeded Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross, 11th-seeded Lauren Fendrick and April Ross, 17th-seeded Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes, and 23rd-seeded Kerri Walsh Jennings and Nicole Branagh, who received a wild card into the main draw.

For the American men, there is no country quota match, as fourth-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, 11th-seeded Theo Brunner and Casey Patterson, 12th-seeded Taylor Crabb and Jake Gibb, and 22nd-seeded Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal are in the main draw. Trevor Crabb and Rosenthal received a wild card to exempt them from qualification.

The USA’s Ryan Doherty and John Hyden are the top seed in Tuesday’s qualifier.

The Brazilian women play two country-quota matches Monday. Elize Maia and Taiana Lima, Josi Alves and Lili Maestrini, and Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado will play round-robin matches for the final Brazilian qualifying berth.

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