Gstaad, Switzerland, July 27, 2007 - Two women’s teams from China will challenge Beach Volleyball pairs from Brazil and the United States for the gold medal after the four tandems won three matches each here Friday in the “US$1-million 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships powered by 1to1 energy.
Two-time world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh of the United States join two-time SWATCH-FIVB World Tour points champions Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca of Brazil in playing the Chinese teams of Jia Tian/Jie Wang and Chen Xue/Xi Zhang Saturday morning for spots in the afternoon’s gold medal match where the winning team will share the $60,000 first-place prize.
May-Treanor and Walsh face Xue and Zhang in Saturday’s first semi-final as the two teams will be playing for the fifth-time on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour with the Americans leading the series 3-1 after defeating the Chinese three weeks ago for the gold medal in Canada 21-16, 16-21 and 15-12.
Juliana and Larissa meet Tian and Wang in the second “final four” match as the two teams will be facing each other for the ninth-time on the SWATCH tour. While the Brazilians lead the series 5-3, Tian and Wang have won three of the last five meetings, including a gold medal victory last August in the Austrian grand slam.
Two wins short of becoming the first men’s or women’s team to win three-straight SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, May-Treanor and Walsh advanced to the “final four” with victories Friday over teams from Switzerland, the United States and Germany with the last being a 21-10 and 22-20 triumph over Helke Claasen and Antje Roder in 37 minutes.
Xue and Zhang prevented an All-USA semi-final as the Chinese scored a 17-21, 21-16 and 15-11 victory over Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in 59 minutes. Xue and Zhang’s only victory over May-Treanor and Walsh was a semi-final win last November in Thailand where the young Chinese tandem collected their second SWATCH gold medal by defeating Tian and Wang in the finals.
Fresh off a gold medal finish at last week’s Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Juliana and Larissa posted wins over teams from Greece and China before advancing to their second-straight world championship semi-final with a 21-16 and 21-19 win in 42 minutes over Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany. Juliana and Larissa dropped a 21-17 and 21-17 gold medal decision to May-Treanor and Walsh at the 2005 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Berlin.
Tian and Wang prevented an All-Brazilian semi-final by advancing to their eighth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” this season with a 21-15 and 21-19 win in 40 minutes over the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara). After winning the season-opening event in Shanghai two months ago, Tian and Jia have collected four silver and two bronze medals this season.
The 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships, which also features men’s competition, continues through the weekend. The final two men’s elimination rounds will be played Saturday followed by the “final four” matches Sunday where defending world champions Marcio Araujo and Fabio Magalhaes of Brazil are still competing.