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Bryl and Losiak smile as they take gold after consecutive frustrating finishes

The last month wasn’t shaping up as a good one for Michal Bryl and Bartosz Losiak, but it all changed on Sunday, when the Poles won the Challenge tournament held in Espinho, Portugal, and became the first team to win gold in three different Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour events.

The Tokyo Olympians were strongly challenged by Austrians Martin Ermacora and Moritz Pristauz in the gold medal match at the Praia da Baia, but their experience proved to be a factor in the end, as they won 2-1 (17-21, 21-13, 15-11). Latvians Aleksandrs Samoilovs and Janis Smedins completed the all-European podium in Portugal.

· Watch all the matches at the Espinho Challenge on demand on Volleyball TV.

Partners since the start of the season, the 27-year-old Bryl and the 30-year-old Losiak started the Beach Pro Tour's inaugural season on fire, taking gold at the first-ever tournament, the Tlaxcala Challenge, in March, and repeating that feat two months later at the Doha Challenge.

Their performance level had dropped over the last weeks, however, with the two Poles entering the Espinho event with one win in their last six matches and disappointing 37th-place and 25th-place finishes at the Beach Volleyball World Championship and the Gstaad Elite16 respectively.

“It’s great to get a good result after what happened in the last few weeks, but we’ll keep fighting for more,” Bryl reflected. “We’ll keep taking one tournament at a time and focusing on what we can do better. The first half of the season was really good for us, so we know how to play. It was a good moment to come back and it’s great to feel the taste of a gold medal again.”

The two teams exchanged points for most of the first set, but two consecutive errors from Bryl gave the Austrians a relatively comfortable lead at 16-13. Ermarcora and Pristauz did a great job in maintaining it until the end and brought the set to an end at 21-17 when Bryl served out.

The second set also had a turning point, which happened when Bryl got blocks in consecutive plays to help his team build an 8-4 lead. The Austrians were able to bring the disadvantage down to two points at 9-7, but the Poles took control again, improved their lead to 16-9 and took the set 21-13 with a pokey shot from Losiak.

The tie-breaker was undecided until the end. Helped by Losiak’s excellent defensive work, however, the Poles went on a hot streak in the final stretch of the set, scoring five of the last six points to win 15-11, when Pristauz served into the net.

Ermacora/Pristauz vs. Bryl/Losiak - Match Highlights

“Our last two tournaments were really bad, we couldn’t even break pool,” Losiak added. “We came here and didn’t start well again, but we kept fighting and we felt we were playing better every match. And the same happened in the gold medal match. This means a lot for us and we hope we can keep this same level going forward.”

The winners of an FIVB World Tour event in Espinho in 2018, Samoilovs and Smedins returned to the podium in Portugal after they finished third in the event. The Latvians collected their second bronze medals of the season (the first came in Tlaxcala) with a straight-set (21-17, 21-14) victory over Poles Piotr Kantor and Maciej Rudol.

Kantor/Rudol vs. Samoilovs/Smedins - Match Highlights

The Beach Pro Tour will head next to Agadir, Morocco, the first African city on the tour's schedule. The city will host a Challenge tournament from July 21-24.