Warsaw, Poland, June 10, 2007 - Within minutes to claiming their 15th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal here Sunday, second-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca were running for cover as the finale of the US$200,000 GE Money Bank Warsaw Open ended with a downpour.
But the downpour started on the Agrykola Prak centre court in Mysliwiecka when Juliana and Larissa’s hard-hitting attack produced a 21-18 and 21-17 win in 46 minutes over fifth-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the first All-Brazilian this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour.
“After not playing well the last two weeks in Singapore and Seoul, I dedicated myself to my coach and Larissa to make more of a consistent effort this week,” said the 23-year old Juliana. “I was really disappointed with my play to start the international season. We expect to win and be very competitive in each and every match.”
Juliana, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player this week, and her 25-year old partner Larissa rebounded from an opening defeat Friday to Tamsin Barnett and Natalie Cook of Australia 24-22, 15-21 and 16-14 to win their next five matches in the second annual GE Money Bank Warsaw Open to share the $32,000 first-place prize.
Sunday’s victory was also Juliana and Larissa’s 12-straight win over Adriana and Shelda on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour after losing the first two matches to their Brazilian rivals in 2004. During the streak, four of Juliana and Larissa’s wins have been in FIVB gold medal matches.
Juliana and Larissa also improved their SWATCH gold medal match mark to 15-10 with 32 podium placements in 41 international Beach Volleyball tournaments since forming their partnership at the 2004 season. Juliana and Larissa are also nearing the $1-million mark in career FIVB winnings ($960,950) with a 221-44 match mark together.
The GE Money Bank Warsaw Open was Adriana and Shelda’s 112th SWATCH since their first FIVB event together at the 1995 season. Two-time SWATCH-FIVB World Champions with a pair of Olympic silver medals to their credit, Adriana and Shelda have the record for international earnings with $2,146,765. The legendary Brazilians have a 31-30 record in FIVB title matches with 84 podium placements and a 565-125 SWATCH match mark.
“Juliana and Larissa are young and very athletic,” said the 38-year old Adriana, who was bidding to become the oldest women to win a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal. “Despite the defeat, we are very pleased with our play this week. In fact, this was our best week of competition in almost a year.”
In the bronze medal match, Chen Xue and Xi Zhang denied Brazil a podium sweep as the young Chinese posted a 21-18 and 21-14 victory over the third-seeded Talita and Renata in 39 minutes. The victory netted Xue and Zhang $16,000 for third-place while the Brazilians split $12,000.
The GE Money Bank Warsaw Open was the fourth of 18 women’s events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar. The women’s international Beach Volleyball circuit continues next week in Portugal for a double gender event starting Tuesday in Espinho.
With the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in seven weeks at Gstaad, Switzerland, the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour also features the start of qualifying for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The Beijing qualifying process runs through July 20, 2008 to determine the 24-team fields per gender. A team’s best eight finishes from SWATCH FIVB World Tour events and FIVB-recognized Continental Championship Finals will be counted.
photos Janos Schmidt