Tyra Turner (left) attempts to block at the SWATCH net with against American rival April Ross in the Phuket Thailand Open gold medal match Sunday
Phuket, Thailand, November 8, 2009 - Jen Kessy and April Ross rebounded from a “disappointing” gold medal setback last week in China to capture their second-straight title on Karon Beach here Sunday by claiming the top spot on the US$190,000 Phuket Thailand Open powered by PTT podium by defeating American compatriots Angie Akers and Tyra Turner in the finals.
The top-seeded Kessy and Ross finished their four days of Karon Beach competition with six-straight wins with the final result being a 21-12 and 21-17 victory in 37 minutes over the second-seeded Akers and Turner, who were competing in their first SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match. The match was the seventh FIVB meeting between the two teams with Kessy and Ross victorious each time. Akers and Turner also lost twice to their rivals on the 2009 American domestic tour.
Sunday’s match also marked the third-straight All-American finale for the Phuket Thailand Open as Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh topped the podium in 2007 during the qualifying process for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games by defeating Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in the Karon Beach finale.
In winning their sixth SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal since forming their partnership in 2007, Kessy and Ross shared the $30,000 first-place prize. One of Kessy and Ross’ three international titles this season was achieved at the start of July in Norway where the Americans captured the 2009 SWATCH FIVB World Championships on the Stavanger dock side courts.
With Akers competing in her first SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match, she and Turner split the $21,000 second-place prize. Turner was competing in her second Phuket Thailand Open title match as she and Branagh dropped the 2008 gold medal match to Kessy and Ross 18-21, 21-14 and 15-12 in 63 minutes. Turner and Rachel Wacholder placed fifth in the 2007 Karon Beach event where Kessy and Ross finished ninth.
In the bronze medal match, 22nd-seeded Maria Bratkova and Evgenia Ukolova captured Russia’s first-ever women’s podium placement on the women’s SWATCH FIVB World Tour by posting a 15-21, 22-20 and 15-9 win in 53 minutes over 17th-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Ashley Ivy of the United States. The Bratkova and Ukolova win denied the Americans a podium sweep for the third-time the 18-year history of the international Beach Volleyball circuit.
With three American teams in the Phuket Thailand Open “final four”, it marked the 16th-time that three women’s pairs from the North American country have reached the SWATCH medal rounds. The Brazilian women have accomplished the three-team “final four” feat 37 times, 1-2-3 finishes in 18 women’s FIVB events.
With the 2009 Phuket Thailand Open semi-finals being played Saturday afternoon, Kessy and Ross advanced to their 12th SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 32 international starts together with a 21-18 and 21-14 semi-final win in 40 minutes over Fendrick and Ivy. Akers and Turner earned a spot in the finals with a 22-20, 17-21 and 21-19 semi-final win in 63 minutes over Bratkova and Ukolova.
Fendrick and Ivy opened played Saturday with a 21-19 and 21-16 elimination win in 41 minutes over 19th-seeded Chen Xue and Linjun Ji of China before advancing to the semi-finals with a 21-19, 18-21 and 15-11 victory in 61 minutes over 30th-seeded qualifiers Elsa Baquerizo and Liliana Fernandez Steiner of Spain. Despite the setback, Elsa and Liliana posted the best-ever finish by a Spanish women’s team on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour.
Bratkova and Ukolova began play Saturday with a 21-11, 18-21 and 15-7 win in 50 minutes over sixth-seeded Vassiliki Arvaniti/Maria Tsiartsiani of Greece before claiming a “final four” spot with a 21-16 and 21`-17 win in 51 minutes over fourth-seeded Sanne Keizer and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands.