Acapulco, Mexico, October 28, 2006 - Reigning Olympic and SWATCH-FIVB World champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh will be facing yet another top-ranked team from Brazil for an international Beach Volleyball gold medal here Sunday, but it will not be the South American tandem that figured to be in the finals of this week's US$400,000 Corona Open on the Playa Tamarindos.
Third-seeded Renata Ribeiro and Talita Antunes snapped a 10-game SWATCH losing streak to Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca by defeating their Brazilian rivals 21-14 and 21-15 in a 36-minute semi-match Saturday morning. The win was only Renata and Talita's second in 16 international starts against the defending Corona Open champions.
"Give Renata and Talita all the credit for winning that match," said Juliana as the top-seeded Brazilians saw their 16-match SWATCH winning streak stopped. "They served well and made a lot of plays defensively. For some reason, we played uninspired for one of the few times this season. It might be the weather, but we have not played well this week."
With their second win Saturday, Renata and Talita face May-Treanor and Walsh for Sunday's $32,000 first-place prize. The Americans out-lasted fifth-seeded Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway 22-20, 17-21 and 15-13 to advance to their first SWATCH finale in their last three international appearances.
Renata and Talita had advanced to their ninth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four” in 30 international starts by defeating 23rd-seeded Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig of Germany 21-14 and 21-16 in 38 minutes. Sunday's final will be the sixth SWATCH gold medal match for Renata and Talita, who captured back-to-back FIVB events in Greece and Bali last season.
For Hakedal and Torlen, Saturday's semi-final appearance was the first-ever for a team for Norway in the 15-year history of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour. The Norwegians gained a “final four spot by winning an elimination match earlier Saturday over seventh-seeded Milagros Crespo and Imara Esteves Ribalta of Cuba 21-16 and 21-19.
“Surprisingly, that’s the first-time we have played Nila Ann and Ingrid,” said Walsh after the 63-minute match in near 90 degree weather on the Acapulco Bay centre court. “They are relentless and served very well today. They compete hard and forced a lot of mistakes with their aggressive play.”
May-Treanor and Walsh will be competing in their 33rd SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match in 46 international starts since forming their partnership at the start of the 2001. The Americans have 23 FIVB titles to the credit and will be seeking their third gold medal in 2006 after winning a pair of June stops in Athens and the Swiss Alps.
Sunday’s gold medal match will be the 67th-time in 148 women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events that Brazil and the United States will be competing for an international title. The United States holds a 38-28 edge in the series. May-Treanor and Walsh defeated Renata and Talita 21-19 and 21-16 Friday in the first-ever SWATCH meeting between the two teams.
The 10th of 10 double gender events on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the men’s finale is Saturday afternoon when Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal of the United States challenge reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil for the gold medal on the Playa Tamarindos.