Acapulco, Mexico, October 29, 2006 - Validating their country’ s first-ever appearance by a women’s team in a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four”, Nila Ann Hakedal and Ingrid Torlen of Norway claimed a bronze medal here Sunday morning by upsetting Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil at the US$400,000 Corona Open on the Playa Tamarindos.
Seeded fifth in the 32-team Main Draw field, Hakedal and Torlen posted a 16-21, 21-17 and 15-9 win in 67 minutes to share the $16,000 third-place prize. In was the Norwegians first win in 11 SWATCH meetings with top-seeded Brazilians as Juliana and Larissa’s streak of 17-straight medal finishes on the FIVB tour was snapped.
“Despite losing our semi-final match Saturday to the Olympic champions, I think we gained a lot of confidence about playing the top-ranked teams in the world,” said the 27-year old Torlen, who teamed with Hakedal to force a third set in their 22-20, 17-21 and 15-13 semi-final setback to Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh from the United States.
“We were able to produce scoring runs against the Miksty and Kerri, so we thought we can also do that against Juliana and Larissa,” Torlen added. “We have been playing very well since the end of June. This medal does wonders for our mental preparation for next season. And, we look forward to next week in Thailand.”
After starting the 2006 season with two 13ths and two 17ths in their first four SWATCH starts, Hakedal and Torlen have now posted nine-straight top-nine finishes on the FIVB tour with a run of a fifth, seventh, fifth and now a third in their last four events for their best string of success since starting their partnership in 2002.
“The Norwegians deserved to win since they handled the pressure and the heat of the match,” said Juliana after her team dropped back-to-back matches for the first-time in their three-year partnership. “Obviously, we are disappointed with our effort this week, but we are really happy for Nila Ann and Ingrid. They are great people along with being world-class players.”
Despite missing a spot on the podium for only the eighth time in 38 FIVB starts together, Juliana and Larissa left Acapulco with a $12,000 check for finishing fourth along with trophies for winning the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour championships.
The 10th of 10 double gender events on the 2006 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar concludes with the women’s gold medal match as third-seeded Renata Ribero and Talita Antunes of Brazil challenge May-Treanor and Walsh for the $32,000 first-place prize. The Americans defeated Renata and Talita 21-19 and 21-16 in a Friday winner’s bracket match in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
Renata and Talita snapped a 10-game SWATCH losing streak to Juliana and Larissa by defeating their Brazilian rivals 21-14 and 21-15 in Saturday’s first semi-final match. The win was only Renata and Talita’s second in 16 international starts against the defending Corona Open champions.
Saturday’s men’s finale also featured a Brazil vs. USA gold medal match as Americans Jake Gibb and Sean Rosenthal upset reigning Olympic champions Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil 21-19, 16-21 and 15-13 to win their first-ever SWATCH-FIVB World Tour title.