Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2007 - in the centre of the German capital.
In validating their 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Championship title at the Schlossplatz, the top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh scored an 18-21, 21-15 and 15-7 win in 45 minutes over second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil to capture the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam.
The win was the American’s third SWATCH gold medal this season in four international Beach Volleyball starts. May-Treanor and Walsh have now claimed 27 FIVB titles in 51 events since the start of the 2001 season. Saturday’s victory netted May-Treanor and Walsh the $43,500 first-place prize to increase their SWATCH earnings to $1,242,540 with 42 podium placements and 44 “final four” finishes.
“We have not played Juliana and Larissa in almost a year,” said the 29-year May-Treanor, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the US$600,000 Smart Grand Slam. “They did some different things in the first set that we had not seen from them before. We played a lot better in the second two sets and regained the momentum from a very good team.”
Saturday’s finale was the 11th-time the two teams have met on the SWATCH tour with the Americans now winning eight times. Nine of the 11 matches have been for gold medals as May-Treanor and Walsh have now won six title matches from the Brazilians. In the last meeting between the two teams, Juliana and Larissa posted a 20-22, 21-15 and 15-13 win in the July 2006 Paris gold medal match.
“Misty and Kerri are a very difficult team to play,” said the 23-year old Juliana, who was playing in their 27th SWATCH gold medal match with Larissa as the pair has claimed 16 titles together. “We had a good start to the match and did some things to confuse the Americans. However, they caught fire in the second set and we could not overcome a bad start in the third set.”
In the deciding set, May-Treanor and Walsh jumped to a 5-0 lead with Juliana and Larissa cutting the margin to 6-4. The Americans scored six of the next seven points to cruise to their 14th-straight match win in Berlin. “I think our quick start in the third-set changed the whole match,” said the 28-year old Walsh. “They made a run, but we stopped it with a stretch of several great plays by Misty. She had a great tournament.”
Both teams will skip next week’s stop in the French port city of Marseille with the Americans competing in a domestic event in May-Treanor’s adopted hometown of Long Beach, Calif. Juliana and Larissa will represent Brazil in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Both of Saturday’s finalists will return to the international circuit for the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in the Swiss Alps village of Gstaad July 24-29. The second-most prestigious event in Beach Volleyball outside of the Olympic Games will feature the top teams in the world for both women and men.
In the bronze medal match, third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China increased their winning streak to five-straight over Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly in posting a 21-19 and 23-21 win in 54 minutes over the eventh-seeded Brazilians. The Chinese shared $23,000 for third-place while Leila and Ana Paula, who have now finished fourth in eight SWATCH events this season, shared $18,400.
The sixth of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the 12th annual Smart Grand Slam concludes Sunday with the men’s semi-finals and medal matches. The Smart Grand Slam is also the ninth qualifying event for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games as the process runs through July 20, 2008. A team’s top eight finishes on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour will be counted along with the continental championships for the European teams.
photos Janos Schmidt