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Larissa/Juliana end gold drought at Beijing Grand Slam
Reigning world champions Larissa Franca/ Juliana Felisberta of Brazil beat 10th seeds Greta Cicolari/ Marta Menegatti from Italy in straight sets (21-13, 21-15) on Saturday to clinch their first gold medal of the season at the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour Beijing Grand Slam.
The 33-minute victory brought the third seeds their 43rd FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour title together and improved their head-to-head record against the Italian duo to 4-2.
Going down tamely in the first set, Cicolari/ Menegatti fought back strongly in the second to pull back to 10-10, but the Brazilian tandem ran off six of the next seven points to make it 16-11 and went on to seal their first championship in the Olympic Stadium at Chaoyang Park.
“I am very, very happy, because now I changed my mentality; I have very bad memories here in Beijing,” said Juliana, who failed to make the women’s top 16 with Larissa in the inaugural Beijing Grand Slam last year.
Making the medal round for the fourth time in a row this season, Larissa/ Juliana finally got their hands on a trophy and split the top prize of $43,000, with Juliana receiving the Red Bull MVP award for the finale.
“My team did not play very well this season,” Juliana admitted. “I think we need more concentration and I need to be healthier. But this tournament was very good for us, because we played well and got back our confidence. Now, I’ll go back to Brazil and train hard to prepare for the next tournament.”
Despite their loss in the final, Cicolari/ Menegatti were pleased with the silver medal, the first of their country at any FIVB Beach Volleyball Grand Slam events.
“We are very happy for the silver medal, the first silver medal for Italy,” said Greta Cicolari. “I’m really happy about the whole tournament, we are very proud of ourselves.”
Cicolari/ Menegatti beat sixth seeds Sanne Keizer/ Marleen Van Iersel 21-18, 21-18 in the first semifinal Saturday morning to make the final and gain revenge for their loss to the Dutch duo in the Myslowice Open last year.
“It feels great to win over the Netherlands,” Greta Cicolari said. “Last year, we lost to them for the gold medal in Myslowice, so it feels like revenge.”
Sanne Keizer/ Marleen Van Iersel rebounded to hold off 21st seeds Holtwick/ Semmler from Germany 21-14, 24-26, 16-14 Saturday afternoon to take home the bronze medal and wrap up the trip to China with two straight top four finishes.
Trailing 20-19 in the second set, Holtwick/ Semmler held off four matchpoints and clinched the set 26-24 to force the tiebreaker. But the Dutch women came back strongly to seal the victory in 55 minutes.
“It was very hot in there and it was hard to play against them,” Keizer commented. “We just make our side-outs and fought very hard, and it worked out.”