|AMERICANS RECLAIM MONTREAL OPEN GOLD|
Montreal, Canada, July 8, 2007 -
With both teams leading candidates for Beijing Olympic berths, May-Treanor and Walsh posted a 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12 win in 54 minutes over Xue and Zhang to win their second gold medal on the Stade Uniprix centre court after capturing the inaugural Montreal Open in 2002.
“I think both teams played at a very high level today,” said Walsh, who was selected the SWATCH most outstanding player for the fourth annual Montreal Open. “Give Misty all the credit for this win as she was not feeling great due to chest congestion. She handled a vast majority of the serves and was a real competitor.”
Walsh’s blocking was a key in the first and third sets as the Chinese were able to build early leads in their fourth meeting with the Americans. Sunday’s win also avenged a setback to Xue and Zhang in the semi-finals of the 2006 SWATCH season finale in Thailand. Overall, May-Treanor and Walsh (combined age of 57) have a 3-1 edge in the series with the young Chinese (combined age of 40).
Sunday’s win was the 26th SWATCH gold medal for May-Treanor and Walsh in 50 international starts together since the start of the 2001 season. The Americans are now 3-0 against Chinese teams in SWATCH finales as May-Treanor and Walsh defeated the FIVB’s top-ranked team of Jia Tian and Jie Wang for the Paris gold medal two weeks ago.
May-Treanor and Walsh have now won 19 of 20 FIVB matches this season with their lone setback being a 21-19 and 21-19 decision to Tian and Wang in the Norwegian grand slam semi-final last week in Stavanger where the Americans placed third. May-Treanor and Walsh have only lost five of 43 sets this season.
The 18-year old Xue, the youngest player to win an international Beach Volleyball gold medal with a title at the 2006 Shanghai stop followed by the Phuket crown, and the 22-year old Zhang shared $22,000 for second-place. The Chinese pair has now claimed three medals in eight events this season and are currently rank second behind Tian and Wang on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour points standings by 820 points (4,020 to 3,200).
In an All-Brazilian Montreal Open bronze medal match, the legendary Beach Volleyball tandem of Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede (combined age of 72) out-lasted Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly 23-21 and 21-19 to claim their 85th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour medal in 115 international starts since 1995. Adriana and Shelda shared the $16,000 third-place prize to increase their SWATCH record earnings to $2,167,865.
Leila and Ana Paula (combined age of 70), who shared $12,000 for fourth-place, were the defending Montreal Open gold medal winners after upsetting the 2005 Stade Uniprix winners and Brazilian rivals Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca for the 2006 title. Juliana and Larissa withdrew from this week’s SWATCH stop to prepare for the next two “major” stops on the FIVB calendar along with the Pan American Games in two weeks in Rio de Janeiro.
The fifth of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Montreal Open concluded Sunday with reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil scoring a 17-21, 21-13 and 18-16 win in 61 minutes over Australia’s Andrew Schacht and Joshua Slack.
The only North American stop on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour this year, the Montreal Open was also part of the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The international Beach Volleyball circuit returns to Europe Tuesday for the third of five “major” events in Berlin followed by a stop in Marseille before the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland.