The Hague, Netherlands, - Led by a record-tying effort by Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, three women’s teams from Brazil placed on the podium here Saturday for this week’s US$380,000 The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 event as The Netherlands is playing host to its first-ever SWATCH FIVB World Tour stop in the 23-year history of the international Beach Volleyball circuit.
In posting a 21-16 and 21-15 win in 37 minutes over second-seeded compatriots Talita Antunes and Maria Antonelli, the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa tied the SWATCH FIVB World Tour record for most gold medals by either a men’s or women’s team in a season as The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 title was No. 7 for the Brazilians in 2009. Juliana was also named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the event.
Sunday’s title also earned Juliana and Larissa their 28th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold since forming their partnership in 2004. In addition, Juliana and Larissa’s $30,000 first-place reward increased their season total to $338,100 for 12 events to rank as the fifth-best annual figure for both men and women. Juliana and Larissa, who also won seven gold medals in 2006, hold the mark for annual earnings with $409,750 in 2005.
With three women’s events left on the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar, including the last European stop in Barcelona September 8-13, Juliana and Larissa are still in position to secure their fourth circuit championship. With a team’s best 12 finishes in 2009 counting, Juliana and Larissa have a 200 point lead over Talita and Antonelli (7,160 to 6,960). The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 is the 13th of 16 women’s events on the international calendar with the last two events China and Thailand.
Earlier Saturday, Juliana and Larissa advanced to their 44th FIVB finale in 71 SWATCH career events by defeating 12th-seeded Lenka Hajeckova Felbabova and Sona Novakova 21-11 and 21-17 in a 34-minute semi-final match. With the Brazilians playing in their 58th SWATCH semi-final, the Czechs were competing in a FIVB “final four” together for the first-time.
Talita, who celebrated her 27th birthday Saturday, and Antonelli earned a spot in their sixth SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match this season by scoring a 21-18 and 21-16 victory in 40 minutes over 11th-seeded compatriots Vivian Cunha and Angela Vieira. By splitting two matches Saturday, Talita and Antonelli shared $21,000 for placing second.
The gold medal meeting was the eighth this season between the two teams with Juliana and Larissa winning seven of the matches. With the first two wins for Juliana and Larissa achieved during the domestic season, five of the next six victories were on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour as the two teams have faced each other in gold medal matches. Juliana and Larissa have won two of the title frays with Talita and Antonelli successful in the Swiss Grand Slam last month in Gstaad.
While the other three teams in the semi-finals had to play only two matches Saturday, Vivian and Vieira had to play an elimination quarter-final meeting with fourth-seeded Brazilian rivals Vanilda Leão and Renata Ribeiro after the match was rescheduled from Friday afternoon due high winds, rain and lightning. Two hours before their semi-final match, Vivian and Vieira scored a 21-15 and 22-20 victory over Leão and Renata.
The Hague Open Beach Volleyball 2009 was the 199th SWATCH event for women with at least one Brazilian pair now competing in 184 semi-finals with three teams in a FIVB “final four” for the 37th-time. Brazilians have competed in 154 women’s finales with two pairs from the South American country competing in the same gold medal match 41 times.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images