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Beach Volleyball - 22. July 2007.


SWATCH most outstanding player Renata Ribeiro (right) with Brazilian gold medal partner Talita Antunes

Marseille, France, July 21, 2007 -

Seeded sixth in the 10th women’s SWATCH stop this season on the international Beach Volleyball circuit, Talita and Renata scored a 19-21, 21-19 and 15-7 win in 57 minues over second-seeded Chen Xue and Xi Zhang of China to share the $32,000 first-place prize in the eighth meeting between the two teams that is now deadlocked.

“We needed this gold medal to help our confidence entering next week’s world championships,” said the 25-year old Renata, who was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the World Series 13. “After winning a bronze in Portugal five weeks ago, we have not played to our potential. We finished 25th the next week in Paris and it has been a slow process to get back to where we needed to be for next week’s competition.”

Before this week’s “perfect” 6-0 match mark, Talita and Renata had won only nine of 17 matches during their “four-week drought”. The Brazilians also placed 17th in Norway, ninth in Canada and fifth last week in Berlin. In their first five 2007 SWATCH starts, Talita and Renata were 26-8 with three medals.

Saturday’s title was Talita and Renata’s fourth since forming their partnership in 2005, including a gold medal in Singapore two months ago where the Brazilians defeated China’s Jia Tian and Jie Wang in the finale. The South Americans’ first two crowns were achieved in September 2005 with back-to-back gold medal finishes in Athens and Bali.

“It was amazing how we scored at the end of the match,” said the 24-year old Talita. “We jumped out to a quick lead in the opening set, but the Chinese battled back to win the first set. They controlled the second set until Renata started making some big plays defensively and we were able to regain the momentum. I don’t think we have ever scored that many points so quickly at the end of a big match. We were on fire.”

Talita and Renata, who are now 4-4 in SWATCH gold medal matches, gained a spot in the World Series 13 women’s finale earlier Saturday with a 21-13 and 21-19 win in 42 minutes over 20th-seeded Efthalia Koutroumanidou and Maria Tsiartsiani of Greece.

Xue, who became the youngest men’s or women’s player ever to win an international Beach Volleyball title last season in Shanghai, and Zhang shared $22,000 for second place. The Chinese were attempting to avenge an earlier World Series 13 setback to Talita and Renata as the Brazilians posted a 23-21, 16-21 and 15-13 win in 52 minutes over Chinese Thursday in the fourth-round of the winner’s bracket.

The 18-year old Xue and the 21-year old Zhang advanced to their sixth SWATCH finale by defeating top-seeded Chinese compatriots Tian and Wang 13-21, 24-22 and 15-13 win in 53 minutes to secure their eighth SWATCH medal in 23 international starts together. It was the 14th FIVB meetings between the two Chinese teams with Tian and Wang winning 11 times.

In the bronze medal match, Tian and Wang claimed their seven podium placement this season and their 15th since the start of the 2006 SWATCH season with a 21-11 and 21-14 win in 41 minutes over Koutroumanidou and Tsiartsiani. Tian and Wang split $16,000 for third-place while the Greeks, who were competing in their first “final four” this season and third since 2005, shared $12,000.

The 13th annual World Series 13 concludes Sunday with the men’s “final four” matches with teams from Argentina, Brazil, Japan and Russia vying for the gold medal. The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues in Europe for the next six events starting with next week’s $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Switzerland followed by the fifth and final “major” stop in Klagenfurt for the $600,000 Austrian Grand Slam.

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