GUARUJÀ, BRAZIL, September 19, 2008 - To the delight of the Praia da Enseada crowd, four Brazilian women’s teams were featured here Friday afternoon with the Beach Volleyball tandems of Agatha Bednarczuk/Shaylyn Bede and Vivian Cunha/Larissa Franca advancing to the gold medal match after posting elimination and semi-final wins at the US$350,000 KIA Open presented by Banco do Brazil.
The All-Brazilian “final four” marked the third-time since the start of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour in August 1992 that four teams from the South American country had filled all the semi-final slots. The first occurrence was at the 2004 FIVB season finale in Rio de Janeiro and the second All-Brazilian “final four” was in July 2005 at St. Petersburg Russia.
With a podium sweep guaranteed, Saturday morning’s award ceremony on the Praia da Enseada centre court will also mark the 17th-time in the history of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour that Brazilians have captured all three medals. The last time was at the 2008 season opening event in Adelaide, Australia.
Vivian and Larissa, the 14th-seeded team in the competition, opened play with a 21-19, 21-23 and 15-13 win in 60 minutes over third-seeded Brazilian rivals Maria Antonelli and Vanilda Leão to advance to the semi-finals in their first FIVB event together against top-seeded Shelda Bede and Ana Paula Connelly.
The 2008 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour point’s champions, Shelda and Ana Paula won the first set 21-19, but Vivian and Larissa rebounded to capture the next two sets 21-13 and 15-10 to capture the 46-minute match. Larissa has won 21 SWATCH gold medals with Juliana Felisberta Silva, who had knee surgery last month that prevented her from competing in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Earlier Friday, Antonelli and Leão ousted compatriots Talita Antunes and Renata Ribeiro with a 21-11 and 21-14 victory in 35 minutes. Talita and Renata were the fourth-place finishers at the Beijing 2008 Olympics after edging Shelda and Ana Paula for the second Brazilian women’s spot in the Summer Games.
Playing the second-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) for the first-time in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour Main Draw, the 12th-seeded Agatha and Shaylyn scored a 21-17, 17-21 and 15-13 semi-final win in 57 minutes. The two teams had met 11 previous times on the international circuit with the Salgados winning eight matches against Agatha and Shaylyn in Country Quota playoff contests.
Competing in their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” together, Agatha and Shaylyn reached the semi-finals with a 21-18 and 22-20 victory in 41 minutes over fifth-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler. In an opening elimination match Friday featuring two German teams, Holtwick and Semmler ousted sixth-seeded Anja Gunther and Geeske Banck 21-17 and 21-11 in 42 minutes.
The women’s KIA Open medal matches will be played Saturday morning.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images