Kristiansand, Norway, August 11, 2007
With their 21-17 and 21-16 win in 38 minutes over second-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China, the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa erased their memories of a visit to Stavanger six weeks ago for a SWATCH grand slam stop to share the $30,000 first-place prize Saturday.
Saturday’s title was Juliana and Larissa’s third this season on the SWATCH circuit and 17th overall since forming their partnership 48 FIVB events ago at the start of the 2004 season. The two wins Saturday also improved the Brazilian’s season record to 54-11 while posting their 259th FIVB victory in 309 matches.
“We are tired since we have been playing almost non-stop since February when we opened our domestic season in Rio de Janeiro,” said the 25-year old Larissa, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the inaugural Otera Open. “The pressure is also a lot greater this year since we are in midst of the Olympic qualifying process for Beijing. That’s our goal and every match is important.”
Juliana and Larissa, who now have a 17-12 record in SWATCH gold medal matches with 40 FIVB podium placements, opened play Saturday with a 22-20, 26-28 and 15-10 win in 67 minutes over third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang of China, the top-ranked team on the international point’s list this season.
In defeating Xue and Zhang for the eighth-time in 11 SWATCH matches, Juliana and Larissa also improved Brazil’s women’s gold medal mark against the Chinese to 5-2. Xue and Zhang are now 2-5 in SWATCH finales, including a 21-11 and 21-17 gold medal setback to Juliana and Larissa 54 weeks ago in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Xue and Zhang, who advanced to the title match Saturday with a 21-17 and 21-19 victory in 41 minutes over fourth-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany, where appearing in their fourth-straight SWATCH “final four” this season as the young Chinese shared the $20,000 second-place prize.
After “sandwiching” a fifth-place finish in Berlin four weeks ago between silver medals finishes in Montreal and Marseille, Xue and Zhang have placed fourth the past two weeks in Switzerland at the Gstaad world championships and in Austria at the Klagenfurt grand slam. In both events, the Chinese dropped semi-final matches to the reigning Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States.
In the bronze medal match, Tian and Wang secured their ninth SWATCH medal in 13 FIVB starts this season by posting a 21-17 and 21-15 win over Pohl and Rau to claim the $14,500 third-place prize. Pohl and Rau, who were netted their first FIVB “final four” appearance this season, split $10,500 for their fourth-place finish.
The 10th of 13 double gender events this season on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the Otera Open concludes Sunday with the men’s semi-finals and medal matches. The international Beach Volleyball circuit continues in Europe for next month starting with another inaugural double gender event next week on the Finnish isle of Aland.
photo Getty Images