Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 2, 2012 – As the sparkling sand of Halifax’s center court settled for the final time Sunday, Switzerland’s Nina Betschart/Anouk Verge-Depre were crowned women’s world champions at the SEA complex at the Halifax Waterfront as the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH Junior World Championships for players under the age of 21 concluded.
The world’s best young adult women’s teams competed in the SEA complex as this year’s 12th annual double-gender event with 26 countries represented began Wednesday in Halifax, a regional municipality of nearly 400,000 residents located in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, which is located on the east coast of Canada.
In front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd at the SEA stadium center court for the Halifax women’s gold medal match, Switzerland’s Betschart returned with the player she replaced at the last minute a year ago in Verge-Depre to win a second straight gold medal in the event. Sunday, Switzerland’s Betschart/Verge-Depre started strong, stayed strong and played nearly flawless in beating Brazil’s seventh-seeded Drussyla Costa/Rebecca Silva in two sets, 21-16, 21-17 in a 32 minutes finale.
Just a week before last year’s FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championship in Halifax, Betschart replaced the injured Verge-Depre and won gold as a 15-year old with Joana Heidrich.
In the women’s bronze medal match, it took three sets, two of which went to overtime before Australia’s 12th-seeded Mariafe Artacho/Taliqua Clancy finally outlasted USA’s third-seeded Sara Hughes/Summer Ross, 23-25, 21-11 and 16-14 in 48 minutes.
The five-day world championship event was held at the purpose-built beach volleyball SEA complex on the Salter Lot of the Halifax Waterfront which featured the 3,000-seat SEA stadium center court as 26 countries have been represented in this double-gender world championship. This was the not only the second time in the event’s 12-year history that it was held in North America, it was also the second straight year in Halifax.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH REVIEW
Using their pre-game strategy from the start of the match and continuing to play aggressively, Switzerland’s Betschart, just 16 from Steinhausen, and Verge-Depre, 20 from Bern, took the lead early in both sets and kept the heat on with strong serves, spectacular defense from both players.
Switzerland’s Betschart/Verge-Depre kept the pressure on Brazil’s Costa/Silva, who committed several hitting errors in the pressure of the match.
“I am in total shock,” said Betschart, who will still be eligible to compete in this event for three more years. “We played so well in this tournament and we compliment each other so well with a different skill sets. Against Brazil, our game plan worked to near perfection. I just can’t believe it. This shows people that we have more than good skiers in Switzerland. I am looking forward to playing in this tournament again next year and I hope it comes back to Halifax.”
Switzerland’s Betschart join Brazil’s Carolina Salgado (2004 and 2005) in event history to win gold in back-to-back years and both did it each year with different partners as well. Verge-Depre, who finished fifth in the 2009 youth worlds in Alanya, Turkey, has played in 11 FIVB SWATCH World Tour events, including seven this season, the experience she says helped her handle the pressure of this tournament much better.
Switzerland’s Betschart/Verge Depre leave Halifax with a perfect 6-0 along with their gold medal while Brazil’s Costa/Silva, who were playing as a team for the first time in this event, end the tournament with a 6-1 record along with their silver medal.
As a country, Switzerland earned a sixth final four placement, third medal and second gold medal in the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships.
Brazil leads the country overall final four placement tally in this event. With their first silver medal, Brazil’s new total is 11 final four finishes and 10 medals including six gold medals and three bronze.
As a side note, the coaches for each team are well known to each other. Brazil’s coach is Jackie Silva, the Atlanta 1996 Olympics gold medal winner with Sandra Pires. Switzerland’s Claudia Laciga is also from Brazill and is married to prominent Swiss pro beach volleyball player Martin Laciga. Silva and Laciga were teammates several years ago on the Brazilian beach domestic tour as well as on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH REVIEW
In the bronze medal match, Australia’s Artacho, 18, and Clancy, 20, who are both live in Adelaide, stayed used their power game to take leads of six points in the first two sets and three in the third as USA’s Hughes/Ross gamely fought back in the first and final set before falling just short.
In the first set, USA’s Hughes/Ross were down by six points at 9-15 before rallying to tie the match at 19-19 as both teams missed on two set point serve opportunities before the USA pulled it out at the end.
After a lopsided second set, the deciding third set was tied seven times as USA’s Hughes/Ross started the set by scoring the first two points. The final tie was at 14-14 as Australia’s Artacho/Clancy held on to win when a Hughes return landed just outside the back line.
Clancy won the silver medal with a different partner at the 2010 FIVB SWATCH Youth World Championships in Porto, Portugal in the same event where Ross won the gold medal with Jane Croson. Ross also that summer set an FIVB mark by winning the gold medal in the junior world championships as well, playing in Alanya, Turkey with Tara Roenicke.
Australia’s Artacho/Clancy finished with a 6-1 record in Halifax while USA’s Hughes/Ross leave Halifax with a 5-2 record. For both Australia and the USA, it was their second final four placement in the FIVB SWATCH Junior World Championships. For Australia, it was their second medal, its first being a silver medal won in 2007 in Modena, Italy by Becchara Palmer/Alice Rohkamper.
FROM HALIFAX TO...
The gold medal team in each gender in Halifax will also be rewarded by the FIVB and the organizers with wild cards and free transportation and an automatic main draw berth in a FIVB SWATCH World Tour event in 2012 or 2013.
MORE INFO, PLEASE
A total of 2,000 tons of special sand has been transported to the Salter Sand complex to build the four competition and two practice courts for the venue, which includes the 3,000-seat stadium center court.
Produced by Canada’s Sports and Entertainment Atlantic (SEA) in association with Volleyball Canada and the Lausanne, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), more information is available at www.fivb.org and during the event, all SEA stadium center court matches were webcast on the event website at www.sandjamhalifax.ca.
Also on-site in Halifax was an IMG production crew who are developing special segments from both the men’s women’s competition to air in the near future on the highly-acclaimed, internationally-syndicated weekly FIVB SWATCH World Tour highlight shows.
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