Gstaad, Switzerland, July 27, 2007 -.
Two-time world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States join two-time SWATCH-FIVB World Tour points champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil in playing the Chinese teams of Jia Tian/Jie Wang and Chen Xue/Xi Zhang Saturday morning for spots in the afternoon’s gold medal match where the winning team will share the $60,000 first-place prize.
May-Treanor and Walsh face Xue and Zhang in Saturday’s first semi-final as the two teams will be playing for the fifth-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with the Americans leading the series 3-1 after defeating the Chinese three weeks ago for the gold medal in Canada 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12.
Juliana and Larissa meet Tian and Wang in the second “final four” match as the two teams will be facing each other for the ninth-time on the SWATCH tour. While the Brazilians lead the series 5-3, Tian and Wang have won three of the last five meetings, including a gold medal victory last August in the Austrian grand slam.
Two wins short of becoming the first men’s or women’s team to win three-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, May-Treanor and Walsh advanced to the “final four” with victories Friday over teams from Switzerland, the United States and Germany with the last being a 21-10 and 22-20 triumph over Helke Claasen and Antje Roder in 37 minutes.
Xue and Zhang prevented an All-USA semi-final as the Chinese scored a 17-21, 21-16 and 15-11 victory over Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in 59 minutes. Xue and Zhang’s only victory over May-Treanor and Walsh was a semi-final win last November in Thailand where the young Chinese tandem collected their second SWATCH gold medal by defeating Tian and Wang in the finals.
Fresh off a gold medal finish at last week’s Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Juliana and Larissa posted wins over teams from Greece and China before advancing to their second-straight world championship semi-final with a 21-16 and 21-19 win in 42 minutes over Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany. Juliana and Larissa dropped a 21-17 and 21-17 gold medal decision to May-Treanor and Walsh at the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Berlin.
Tian and Wang prevented an All-Brazilian semi-final by advancing to their eighth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” this season with a 21-15 and 21-19 win in 40 minutes over the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara). After winning the season-opening event in Shanghai two months ago, Tian and Jia have collected four silver and two bronze medals this season
– but the sailors praise the new boats