Klagenfurt, Austria, August 4, 2007
After winning the first set 21-16 against third-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, the top-seeded May-Treanor and Walsh trailed the Brazilians 19-16 at a side-switch in the second set. The Americans scored three-straight points to tie the set with Juliana and Larissa siding out for a 20-19 lead. May-Treanor regained the lead at 21-20 enroute to a 23-21 win in the second set of the 46-minute match.
“That was a remarkable comeback,” said May-Treanor, who celebrated her 30th birthday earlier in the week. “We caught fire at the right time and did not give up. We have a history of scoring points in bunches and we certainly did today at the end of the second set. Juliana and Larissa are a great team that is very competitive. We make some big plays in the comeback to recapture another Austrian title in front of this crowd.”
May-Treanor and Walsh, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the A1 Grand Slam, had previously claimed Lake Woerthersee gold medals in 2002, 2003 and 2005 before finishing fifth last year for their first non-semi-final appearance since the 2005 FIVB season.
With Saturday’s title, May-Treanor and Walsh shared the $43,500 first-place prize in winning their fifth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal in six events this season. With only one international setback in 42 FIVB matches this season, the Americans have earned $245,500 on the 2007 SWATCH tour. May-Treanor and Walsh’s only defeat was a 21-19 and 21-19 decision to China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang in the Norwegian Grand Slam semi-finals last month.
In winning her 32nd FIVB gold medal Saturday, May-Treanor also passed Brazilians Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede as the winningest player since the start of the international Beach Volleyball circuit for women in 1992. Adriana and Shelda, who placed ninth this week, captured their 31st crown in September 2004 at Milan, Italy.
“I am honored to break the record,” said May-Treanor. “When I started on this tour with Holly McPeak in 1999, Adriana and Shelda were my teachers. I learned so much from them. For so many years, Adriana and Shelda were the leaders and everyone looked up to them. I am thrilled to be mentioned in the same way as Adriana and Shelda. They are my idols.”
May-Treanor and Walsh are now two gold medals short of tying Adriana and Shelda for the most FIVB team wins as the Brazilians compiled their 31 gold medals from September 1996 through September 2004. May-Treanor and Walsh’s first gold medal victory was in July 2001 against Adriana and Shelda in Portugal. On the career earnings list, Adriana and Shelda have shared $2,190,865 for 118 FIVB events while May-Treanor and Walsh have earned $1,346,040 for 53 SWATCH starts together.
Walsh has now captured five of the last six A1 Grand Slam gold medals as she teamed with Rachel Wacholder to win the 2004 title when May-Treanor missed three FIVB events prior to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games due to an abdominal strain that forced the Americans to forfeit a pair of matches in the Berlin grand slam to place 17th.
In finishing second after losing to May-Treanor and Walsh for ninth-time in 12 SWATCH-FIVB World tour matches since 2004, Juliana and Larissa shared $29,500 for the silver medal finish. While the Americans are now 29-9 in FIVB gold medal matches, Juliana and Larissa are 16-12, including a 3-7 mark against the Americans.
In the bronze medal match, 15th-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany posted a 21-15 and 21-19 win in 39 minutes over fourth-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China. The Germans split $23,000 for their second SWATCH medal this season while Xue and Zhang shared $18,400 for fourth-place.
The ninth of 13 double gender events this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the 11th annual A1 Grand Slam ends with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues next week for its second visit to Norway this season with a stop in Kristiansand.
photo Getty Images