Porto Santo, Madeira, Portugal, September 17, 2006 - Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca capped another successful weekend on the international Beach Volleyball tour by capturing the US$200,000 Porto Santo Line/TMN Open gold medal by defeating Renata Ribeiro and Talita Antunes in the All-Brazilian finale at the Estadio de Desportos do Porto Santo - Penedo do Sono near the shelter port.
With their 38-36 and 21-18 win in 60 minutes over the fifth-seeded Renata and Talita, the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa shared the $32,000 first-place prize in winning their sixth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal this season and their 13th international title since forming their partnership at the start of the 2004 season.
The 74 points in the opening set also set a women’s SWATCH mark for most points in a first set of a match since the start of rallying scoring in 2001. Juliana and Larissa were on the losing end of the highest scoring set in FIVB history (42-40, second set) in the Acapulco final against Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh before winning the Mexico gold medal last October in three sets (28-26, 40-42 and 15-13 in 100 minutes).
Sunday’s win moved Juliana and Larissa ahead of the legendary Brazilian team of Sandra Pires/Jackie Silva on the all-time SWATCH women's team gold medal list to rank behind Adriana Behar/Shelda Bede of Brazil (31 FIVB medals) and Treanor/Walsh (23). Sandra and Jackie captured the Atlanta 1996 Olympic gold medal before winning the 1997 SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Los Angeles.
Renata and Talia, who have now lost nine-straight FIVB matches to Juliana and Larissa, split $22,000 for the second-place and their best finish this season on the SWATCH circuit in 12 starts. Juliana and Larissa defeated their Brazilian rivals twice this week, including a 21-19, 19-21 and 15-12 quarter-final victory Friday evening.
Juliana and Larissa, who have now won 13 of 14 SWATCH meetings the past two season against Renata and Talita, started the inaugural Porto Santo Line/TMN Open by clinching the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season points title Thursday after winning their opening match against a team from Portugal. It is the second-straight SWATCH points crown for Juliana and Larissa after placing second to Adriana and Shelda in 2004.
"It is a long season and we are very pleased with our results so far," said the 24-year old Larissa. "We have been playing since February and we still have six more events left to play this season, including three more SWATCH tournaments. Two SWATCH titles are great, but the work really begins next year with the Olympic qualifying process."
Depending on the health of Adriana and Shelda, the two-time Olympic silver medalists, Brazil will have at least six "highly-regarded" teams competing for two spots at the Beijing 2008 Summer Games. Renata and Talita are currently the fifth-ranked team on the SWATCH tour behind Adriana and Shelda. Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly are sixth on the list for Brazil with the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) 26th. Three-time Olympian Sandra is expected back in 2007 to pursue her third Summer Games medal with a new partner.
"In addition to the Olympics, all the Brazilians are competing for one spot for our country in the 2007 Pan American games to be held next summer in Rio de Janeiro," said the 23-year old Juliana. "We are fortunate that we have had so much success that we don’t have to face country quota and qualifying matches each week like the other Brazilian teams."
After winning only one event in 10 SWATCH starts with $124,000 in earnings and a 52-17 match mark during their first season together, Juliana and Larissa have dominated the international circuit the past one-plus years. The Brazilians won six gold medals in 15 SWATCH starts in 2005 with an 82-14 match mark and a record $409,750 in earnings. This season, Juliana and Larissa are now 63-6 with $323,200 in winnings and six more SWATCH titles for 11 events.
In the bronze medal match, second-seeded Tian Jia and Wang Jie of China rebounded from their semi-final setback to Renata and Talita to scored a 21-15 and 21-14 victory in 36 minutes over 22nd-seeded Helke Claasen and Antje Roder of Germany, who were competing in their first SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" in 24 starts. The Chinese shared $16,000 for third-place with Claasen and Roder receiving $12,000 for fourth.
The Porto Santo Line/TMN Open was the 10th and final women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event in Europe this season. The 2006 campaign concludes with stops in Brazil (September 26-30 at Vitoria), Mexico (October 25-29 at Acapulco) and Thailand (November 1-5 at Phuket).