Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 7, 2010 - Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca tied a SWATCH FIVB World Tour record here Saturday afternoon as the Brazilians defeated the Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medal winners from China in the finals at the US$600,000 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam to claim their 35th international gold medal before a capacity crowd on the Hotel Anders centre court.
With their 14-21, 25-23 and 16-14 win in 55 minutes over fourth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang, the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa gained a share of the record for SWATCH FIVB World Tour titles by a team to join American Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh on top of the list.
With two Saturday wins, including a 21-14, 16-21 and 15-13 semi-final win in 53 minutes over seventh-seeded Barbara Hansel and Sara Montagnolli of Austria, Juliana and Larissa also extended their current SWATCH FIVB World Tour winning streak to 29-straight
matches as the Brazilians have now won four-straight events.
Juliana and Larissa, who shared the $43,500 first-place prize, were last defeated on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour by Xue and Zhang as the Chinese posted a 12-21, 21-14 and 15-13 win over the Brazilians in a 51-minute semi-final match June 13 at the Russian Grand Slam in Moscow.
Since Moscow, Juliana and Larissa have defeated the Chinese twice starting with a 21-15 and 24-22 quarter-final victory July 2 at the Norwegian Grand Slam in Stavanger. Juliana and Larissa now have a 13-5 edge in the SWATCH series with Xue and Zhang, including three gold medal wins in as many meetings.
To reach Saturday’s finale for their 52nd SWATCH title appearance in 81 FIVB events since the start of the 2004 season, Juliana and Larissa had to post wins Friday afternoon in three-set victories over pairs from Switzerland and Russia.
With previous SWATCH FIVB World Tour Grand Slam gold medals in their last three appearances in Norway, Switzerland and last week in Austria, Juliana and Larissa now have six gold medals this season. Of Juliana and Larissa’s 35 gold medals, eight have been won at “major” FIVB events.
Juliana and Larissa’s successful defense of their Polish title in Stare Jablonki also made the Brazilians the second team in the 24-year history of the SWATCH FIVB World Tour to surpass $2-million in team earnings. Juliana and Larissa have totaled $2,028,350 to rank second to compatriots Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede ($2,207,965).
With Larissa surpassing the $1-million winnings mark last week in Austria, Juliana exceeded the milestone this weekend to become the sixth player to achieve seven-figures in earnings. The other millionaires are Emanuel Rego ($2,074,035), Ricardo Santos ($1,444,820), Shelda ($1,320,908) and Adriana ($1,198,438). Larissa has netted $1,032,935 and Juliana has earned $1,020,925.
Xue and Zhang, who spoiled a possible All-Brazilian Mazury Orlen Grand Slam finale by posting a 21-15 and 21-16 semi-final win in 37 minutes over second-seeded Maria Antonelli and Talita Antunes, shared $29,500 for the second-place finish. The Chinese are now 5-6 in SWATCH FIVB World Tour finales with a 1-4 mark against Brazilians.
In the bronze medal match, Antonelli and Talita won the $23,000 third-place prize by posting a 23-21 and 22-20 victory in 44 minutes minutes over Hansel and Montagnolli. The Austrians became the first-ever men’s or women’s team from their country to play in three-straight international “final fours”. After finishing third and fourth at the past two events in France and Austria, Hansel and Montagnolli split $18,400 for fourth-place this week.
The 11th of 15 women’s events on the 2010 SWATCH FIVB World Tour continues next week in Norway as Kristiansand hosts its fourth annual double gender stop starting Monday. The men’s Mazury Orlen Grand Slam finale is Sunday as Saturday’s schedule featured three rounds of elimination bracket play where teams from Brazil, the Czech Republic, Germany and the United States were still in contention for the gold medal.
photos Janos Schmidt