Fortaleza, Brazil, September 28, 2007 -
Reigning Olympic and three-time world championship gold medal winners Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States will face three-time SWATCH-FIVB World Tour point’s champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil here Saturday on the Praia de Iracema for the US$32,000 first-place prize at the Banco do Brasil Open.
After each team advanced through the winner’s bracket of the US$400,000 Banco do Brasil Open with four-straight wins, May-Treanor/Walsh and Juliana/Larissa won semi-final matches Friday with wins over pairs from their country that each had to win a pair of morning elimination contests to advance to the SWATCH “final four”.
The top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh scored a 21-16 and 21-15 win in 40 minutes over fifth-seeded Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs while the second-seeded Juliana and Larissa posted a 19-21, 21-19 and 15-7 victory in 62 minutes over seventh-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede.
While May-Treanor and Walsh were winning their fourth-straight SWATCH match over Branagh and Youngs with three of the victories being secured at Brazilian FIVB events, Juliana and Larissa have now defeated Adriana and Shelda 15-straight times after losing their first two FIVB meetings between the two teams in 2004.
May-Treanor and Walsh, who have now won 39 of 47 semi-final matches in 54 SWATCH-FIVB World events, extended their international winning streak to 34 with their last defeat being at the Norwegian grand slam in Stavanger three months ago to Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China 21-19 and 21-19.
Winners of 29 FIVB gold medals, May-Treanor and Walsh improved their 2007 SWATCH mark to 46-1 by winning 92 of 100 sets this season. With a 310-35 match mark since forming their partnership in 2001, May-Treanor and Walsh have now shared $1,368,040 in international winnings to rank second behind Adriana and Shelda ($2,207,965).
In clinching their third-straight SWATCH points title after placing second to Adriana and Shelda in 2004, Juliana and Larissa will be playing for their 32nd FIVB gold medal in 51 starts together. With five gold medals this season and 19 overall, Juliana and Larissa have won their last eight FIVB matches to improve their season mark to 72-12.
With $1,229,350 in earnings together, Juliana and Larissa rank third on the all-time SWATCH list behind Adriana/Shelda and May-Treanor/Walsh. The young Brazilians have a 277-51 FIVB career match mark together since competing here in their first SWATCH event together on the Praia de Iracema in 2004 when May-Treanor and Walsh won the gold medal by defeating Adriana and Shelda in the finals.
Overall, May-Treanor and Walsh have a 9-3 edge in the series with Juliana and Larissa. The first meeting between the two teams was at the 2004 SWATCH stop on the Praia de Iracema as the Americans posted an 18-21, 24-22 and 15-8 win in 60 minutes. While May-Treanor and Walsh won the event, Juliana and Larissa won nine of 11 matches in their first SWATCH event to earn the bronze medal.
In the previous 70 Brazil/USA title meetings, American tandems have won 41 times as May-Treanor and Walsh have posted a 21-8 title mark against the South Americans. Juliana and Larissa will be playing an American team for the 12th-time for a FIVB title. The first 10 gold medal matches were against May-Treanor and Walsh with the Americans winning seven times, including title victories in Berlin and Klagenfurt this season.
The last of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the Banco do Brasil Open concludes with the final men’s gold medal match of the season Sunday. The women’s season-ending event is October 31-November 4 in Phuket, Thailand.