Kristiansand, Norway, August 15, 2009 - For the second-straight year, Maria Antonelli stood atop the Otera Open podium with a Brazilian partner as she and Talita Antunes captured the women’s gold medal here late Saturday afternoon at the US$380,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour event in the southern Norwegian resort city.
With the women’s competition starting in cool and damp conditions on the Tresse courts in the City Centre, the second-seeded Antonelli and Talita denied the eighth-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) a gold medal in the first-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour title appearance by an Austrian women’s or men’s team in an international Beach Volleyball finale.
Competing full-time on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour for the second year, Antonelli captured the 2008 Otera Open title with Vanilda Leão, who placed fifth this week with Renata Ribeiro. Before Antonelli and Leão’s winning effort in Kristiansand last August, Talita and Renata placed fourth together at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Antonelli and Talita posted a 21-19 and 24-22 quarter-final win over Leão and Renata Friday afternoon.
With their 21-14, 18-21, 15-12 gold medal win in 59 minutes over the Schwaigers, Antonelli and Talita shared the $30,000 first-place prize in winning their fourth international title this season as the Brazilians improved their position as the top team on the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour by 120 points over compatriots Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca. The Schwaigers split $21,000 for second-place.
Entering the third annual Otera Open, Antonelli and Talita held a 40-point edge over their Brazilian rivals. The Schwaigers denied Juliana and Larissa an opportunity to assume the tour leadership by posting a 21-14, 13-21 and 16-14 semi-final victory in 54 minutes over the Brazilians Saturday morning.
“It is great to win again in Kristiansand where I won my first major FIVB title,” said the 25-year old Antonelli, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the Otera Open. “Last year’s victory was very special since it was my first, but this year’s is very important as we would like to finish as the No. 1 team on this tour. We are still a gold medal behind Juliana and Larissa this year, but every win helps.”
The SWATCH FIVB World Tour championship will be determined by a team’s best 12 finishes as the Otera Open was stop No. 11 of 16 women’s events on the 2009 calendar. Antonelli and Talita have competed in all 11 events this season with stops still remaining in Finland, The Netherlands, Spain, China and Thailand. Back problems forced Juliana from an early May event in Shanghai as she and Larissa have competed in 10 events in 2009.
Talita, who was making her first Kristiansand appearance after being injured in 2007, and Antonelli advanced to their fifth SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match this season with a 21-14 and 21-19 win in 46 minutes over ninth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway. The Norwegians lost the 2008 Otera Open gold medal match to Antonelli and Leão.
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