The Hague, Netherlands, - If not for the Greeks, Thursday’s women’s competition at the at the US$380,000 The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 belonged to the Brazilians as the South American country is guaranteed a spot in a SWATCH FIVB World Tour semi-final for the 13th-straight time this season.
Vassiliki Arvaniti and Maria Tsiartsiani denied the Brazilians a sweep of the opening matches in the third-round of the winner’s bracket here Thursday as the 14th-seeded Greeks posted a 21-19 and 21-12 win in 36 minutes over 11th-seeded Vivian Cunha and Angela Vieira of Brazil to advance to the third of four quarter-final matches Friday.
Posting opening winner’s bracket victories for Brazil Thursday were top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, second-seeded Talita Antunes/Maria Antonelli and fourth-seeded Vanilda Leão/Renata Ribeiro. With Talita and Antonelli playing the Greeks for the second-time this season, the winner of the match between Juliana/Larissa and Leão/Renata will secure Brazil a spot in Saturday’s “final four” schedule.
The Brazil/Greece confrontation early Friday was set up when Talita and Antonelli won by forfeit over 10th-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen for the Brazilians fourth-straight win over the Norwegians this season. Arvaniti and Tsiartsiani’s win over Vivian and Vieira was their first over the Brazilians, who had defeated the Greeks twice previously this season in Russia and Poland.
Juliana and Larissa, who assumed the top ranking spot on the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour points list, won for the 63rd-time in 72 international Beach Volleyball matches this season with a 21-14 and 21-12 win in 29 minutes over ninth-seeded Danielle Remmers and Michelle Stiekema of The Netherlands in the first meeting between the two teams. In their last four-plus events, Juliana and Larissa have won 28 of 30 matches with three gold medals.
With a team’s best 12 finishes on the 2009 women international Beach Volleyball events counting, Juliana and Larissa have now totaled 6,860 as compared to Talita and Antonelli’s 6,720 to maintain the SWATCH FIVB World Tour leadership. The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 is the 13th of 16 women’s events on the international calendar this season with the last three events set for Spain, China and Thailand.
Leão and Renata, who have lost two of three matches this season to Juliana and Larissa, opened play Thursday with a 22-20 and 21-16 victory in 39 minutes over 12th-seeded Lenka Hajeckova Felbabova and Sona Novakova of the Czech Republic. It was Leão and Renata’s second win over a Czech pair this week after defeating 13th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova Wednesday afternoon.
With five Brazilian pairs in the inaugural The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009, four remain in the double-elimination competition. Vivian and Vieira will play Hakedal and Torlen in an opening match Friday with the winner challenging the loser of the Juliana/Larissa versus Leão/Renata match for the final semi-final berth.
The loser of the match between Talita/Antonelli and the Greeks will be challenged by the winner of an opening elimination match between sixth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands and Hajeckova Felbabova/Novakova. Keizer and Van Iersel advanced to Friday’s schedule with back-to-back victories over Dutch rivals Thursday afternoon after eliminating the fifth-seeded Schwaiger sisters (Doris and Stefanie) of Austria.
Situated at Hommerson Beachstadion on the most popular beach in The Netherlands, The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 concludes with the women’s semi-finals and medal matches Saturday followed by the men’s “final four” rounds the next day. The winning women’s and men’s teams will each split the $30,000 first-place prizes.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS