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Beach Volleyball - 05. July 2010.

Brazil’s Juliana & Larissa Capture Gold Medal at ConocoPhillips Grand Slam


Juliana Felisberta Silva (left) and Larissa Franca claim Grand Slam gold in Norway for Brazil

Stavanger, Norway, July 3, 2010 - With two Brazilian teams playing for a SWATCH FIVB World Tour women’s gold medal for the 43rd time in 208 international Beach Volleyball events, top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca topped the podium here Saturday at US$600,000 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam by defeating compatriots Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes in two sets.

With their 21-17 and 21-17 win in 43 minutes over the third-seeded Antonelli and Talita, Juliana and Larissa shared the $43,500 first-place prize in winning their third SWATCH gold medal this season and their 32nd FIVB tournament title since forming their partnership in 2004.  The Vaagen Harbour crown was also a second for Juliana and Larissa, who captured the 2006 Stavanger gold medal by defeating legendary Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the finals.

Sunday’s gold medal meeting was the 11th SWATCH FIVB World Tour match between the two teams with Juliana and Larissa winning nine times, including a semi-final victory over Antonelli and Talita at the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Championships on the Vaagen Harbour dockside courts.  Five of the matches have been for international gold medals with Juliana and Larissa winning four times.

After winning three pool and two elimination matches on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Juliana and Larissa advanced to their 49th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match with a 21-19 and 21-19 win in 43 minutes over seventh-seeded Nicole Branagh and Misty May-Treanor of the United States in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

Antonelli and Talita, who shared $29,500 for their silver medal finish, rebounded from a defeat in their pool to win three elimination matches Friday along with a semi-final win Saturday over 20th-seeded Lenka Hajeckova and Hana Klapalova of the Czech Republic 21-17, 19-21 and 15-9 in 51 minutes.  The Czechs were making their first appearance together in a SWATCH “final four” as both players reached the semi-finals with different partners last season.

By collecting the 800 FIVB points for winning the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam, Juliana and Larissa also became the No. 1-ranked team on the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour.  Four-time SWATCH tour champions, (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009), Juliana and Larissa now have 3,580 FIVB points this season to move past Americans Jen Kessy and April Ross (3,340).

Kessy and Ross entered the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam with a 160 point lead, but only managed to earn 320 points this week by placing ninth after losing 19-21, 21-15 and 15-9 to Juliana and Larissa Friday afternoon on the Vaagen Harbour dockside courts.  The American effort was also hurt by a two-set loss to 15th-seeded Barbara Hansel and Sara Montagnolli of Austria in pool play.

In the bronze medal match, Branagh and May-Treanor claimed their first-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour podium placement together with a 21-12, 16-21 and 15-8 win in 49 minutes over Hajeckova and Klapalova in the first international Beach Volleyball meeting between the two teams.  While the Americans earned $23,000 for the third-place finish, Hajeckova and Klapalova split $18,400 for their “final four” appearance.

The third of six “major” tournaments on the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour schedule, the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam concludes Sunday with the men’s “final four” matches.  The SWATCH FIVB World Tour continues next week with another Grand Slam stop starting Monday in Gstaad, Switzerland.  After a week’s break, “Open” play returns to France July 19-25 in Marseille before the final two Grand Slam stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 26-August 1) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 2-8).

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