STAVANGER, NORWAY, July 1, 2006 - Led by Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca, Brazil captured all three spots on a ConocoPhillips Grand Slam podium as the young South Americans captured their second gold medal of the 2006 season and ninth overall here Saturday.
Played before a capacity crowd of 4,300 on the Vagen Harbour centre court, the top-seeded Juliana and Larissa posted a 21-18 and 21-17 win in 43 minutes over third-seeded Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the 29th All-Brazilian finale since the start of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour in 1992.
With Juliana and Larissa sharing the $42,300 first-place prize, the Brazilian women have now completed a SWATCH podium sweep for the 14th-time. Adriana and Shelda split $28,300 for their silver medal finish. Completing the Brazilian sweep was a bronze medal for 25th-seeded Leila Barros and Ana Paula Connelly.
The gold medal win was Juliana and Larissa’s eighth in 10 meetings on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour against Adriana and Shelda, including a title win in the 2005 international opener in Shanghai, China. The young Brazilians have won their last eight matches since losing a pair of meetings in 2004 when Juliana and Larissa were playing together for the first time.
“We are glad to be back on top of the podium,” said the 22-year old Juliana, the SWATCH most outstanding player for the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam. “After losing in pool play Thursday, we had to play an extra match to get back to the finals. We still need to improve, but we made enough big plays this week to win.”
While Juliana and Larissa, who finished second in the 2005 ConocoPhillips Grand Slam, are now 9-8 in gold medal matches, Adriana and Shelda’s mark in finales dropped to 31-28. “They had fresher legs,” the 37-year old Adriana offered. “We both had to play three-set semi-final matches earlier in the day. I think they recovered faster than us.”
Juliana and Larissa, who captured the 2006 SWATCH opener in Italy before finishing third, third and second in the next three events, advanced to the finals with a 18-21, 21-15 and 15-13 win over Leila and Ana Paula. Adriana and Shelda followed with a 21-17, 21-23 and 15-11 win over 23rd-seeded Stephanie Pohl and Okka Rau of Germany.
Adriana and Shelda, who placed 17th last week in Switzerland, were competing in their first SWATCH finale in eight events since losing last September in Bali to Brazilian rivals Renata Riberio and Talita Antunes. Adriana and Shelda last won a FIVB event at the 2004 Italy Open in Milan after the Athens Olympic Games.
In the bronze medal match, Leila and Ana Paula captured their second SWATCH medal in 17 international starts together with an 18-21, 21-16 and 15-13 win in 58 minutes over Pohl and Rau. Leila and Ana Paula finished the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam with a 9-1 match mark and a share of the $22,100 third-place prize.
Despite placing fourth to split $17,700, Pohl and Rau continue to lead European teams in international competition. The Germans, who won two European Tour stops last month in Hamburg and Moscow, were competing in their second SWATCH-FIVB World Tour “final four” after placing third last year in Milan, Italy.
The second of seven-straight double gender events on the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, ConocoPhillips Grand Slam ends Sunday with the men’s medal matches. The next double gender stop for the SWATCH circuit is next week in Marseille where the women’s qualifying action starts Tuesday followed by Wednesday’s Main Draw rounds.