Marseille, France, July 25, 2010 - For the sixth-time on the Plages du Prado Gaston Defferre center court, a Brazilian women’s team has topped the podium as Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes defeated the Austrian Schwaiger sisters in two sets to win the gold medal here Sunday at the US$380,000 World Series 13.
The top-seeded Antonelli and Talita posted a 21-17 and 21-12 win in 37 minutes over the 12th-seeded Schwaigers (Doris and Stefanie) to share the $30,000 first-place prize. Sunday’s title was Antonelli and Talita’s first SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal in 2010 after the Brazilians captured four international Beach Volleyball championships during their first-season of their partnership in 2009.
The World Series 13 title was Talita’s second in Marseille as she topped the Plages du Prado Gaston Defferre podium in 2007 with her Beijing 2008 Olympic partner Renata Ribeiro. Brazilian women also captured Marseille titles in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2006. The 1999 stop in the Mediterranean port city was the FIVB world championships with Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede capturing the gold medal.
With six-straight wins this week, Antonelli and Talita moved into second-place on the points standings for the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour with 4,100 points to rank behind compatriots Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca (4,460 points). The two Brazilian teams also finished 1-2 in the world last season.
A fifth-place World Series 13 finish by Jen Kessy and April Ross (4,020) dropped into third-place after the Americans having fallen from the tour leadership by placing ninth, ninth and fifth in their last three international events. Antonelli and Talita defeated Kessy and Ross 21-17 and 21-19 Friday to advance to Saturday’s semi-finals.
After starting the season with a 17th in the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour opener in Brazil, Antonelli and Talita have now posted seven-straight “final four” finishes. In 22 FIVB starts the past two years, Antonelli and Talita have posted 18 semi-final appearances with 14 podium placements.
Antonelli and Talita are now 5-4 in SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal matches where their last victory in an international finale was a 21-14, 18-21 and 15-12 win over the Schwaigers last season in Kristiansand, Norway. Before Sunday’s win, Antonelli and Talita had dropped three-straight title matches to Juliana and Larissa, including a 21-17 and 21-17 Grand Slam setback in Norway earlier this month.
The only men’s or women’s team from Austria to play in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match, the Schwaigers split $21,000 for their second-place finish. Sunday’s medal was their third as the sisters had claimed a bronze podium placement at a 2008 FIVB stop in Kristiansand. The silver medal finish also moved the Schwaigers from 12th to eighth on the 2010 SWATCH points list.
In the bronze medal match, Austria claimed two podium spots for the first-time in the 24-year history of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour as 15th-seeded Barbara Hansel and Sara Montagnolli scored a 21-18, 19-21 and 16-14 win in 68 minutes over sixth-seeded Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands. Both teams were playing in their first SWATCH “final four” this season.
Hansel and Montagnolli split $15,000 for placing third while the Dutch shared $11,200 for placing fourth. The World Series 13 bronze medal was Hansel and Montagnolli’s best SWATCH finish after placing fourth last year at the Austrian Grand Slam. Austria also had a men’s team playing in the World Series 13 medal rounds Sunday as sixth-seeded Florian Gosch and Alexander Horst placed fourth.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS