Mariehamn, Aland, Finland, August 17, 2007
Both teams gained spots in title match here Friday after defeating rival teams from their country. Juliana and Larissa will be looking for their seventh win in 11 meetings with the Chinese after defeating Tian and Wang last week in a Norwegian semi-final where the Brazilians posted a 22-20, 26-28 and 15-10 victory in 67 minutes.
“It will be a tough match for both teams since we have faced each other in pressure-packed meetings,” said the 24-year old Juliana. “The Chinese are very strong and are difficult to play due to their size. All of our matches have been close and long.”
Seven of the 10 matches have been three-setters lasting nearly an hour with the last four meetings being in a SWATCH semi-final, including the world championships last month in Switzerland. The two teams met for a SWATCH gold medal last season in Austria with Tian and Wang posting a 22-20, 21-16 and 15-11 win last August in Klagenfurt.
“We look forward to our meeting,” said the 26-year old Tian. “Juliana and Larissa are a very competitive team with great athletic ability and Beach Volleyball experience. The key for both teams is a strong service game with very few errors. For us, the match will be our last until November, so we are looking forward to end our travels with a good result Saturday.”
In seeking their fourth SWATCH title this season, Juliana and Larissa will also be looking to better their 17-12 FIVB gold medal match mark. After the Chinese defeated Juliana and Larissa for the Austrian grand slam crown, Tian and Wang also captured titles in Poland last September and earlier this season in Shanghai with a 3-7 gold medal match record.
The top-seeded Juliana and Larissa advanced to the finals with a 21-18 and 21-12 semi-final victory over 11th-seeded and Brazilian compatriots Ana Paula Connelly and Adriana Behar in 45 minutes. Ana Paula and Adriana were playing in their first SWATCH event together after the withdrawal earlier this week of their regular partners Leila Barros and Shelda Bede.
In an All-Chinese semi-final, Tian and Wang scored a 21-15 and 22-20 win over third-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang. It was the 16th meeting between the two Chinese teams with Tian and Wang snapping a two-match losing streak to Xue and Zhang to maintain a 12-4 edge in the series.
The 11th of 13 double gender events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar, the PAF Open concludes with the men’s medal matches Sunday. The winning teams in each gender will share the $32,000 first-place prizes.