Rome, Italy, June 17, 2011—After playing the round of 16 and the quarterfinals Friday, women’s teams from Brazil, China, Czech Republic and the United States have advanced to Saturday semifinals at the $1 million FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships, powered by smart, which continues through Sunday at Rome’s magnificent Foro Italico sports complex. Saturday’s women's semifinals are scheduled for 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The internationally-televised eighth FIVB Swatch World Championships started Monday with 48 men’s and 48 women’s teams and three days of round robin pool play. The women completed their round robin play Wednesday and the men Thursday and the top two teams from each pool along with the best eight third-place teams advanced to the 32-team single elimination phase that will ultimately crown the 2011 FIVB world champions following the medal matches on Sunday evening.
With the field reduced to the final four, the matchups for Saturday evening’s semifinals will be China’s eighth-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang meeting USA’s fifth-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh followed by Czech Republic’s 22nd-seeded Lenka Hajeckova/Hana Klapalova against Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca.
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa were pushed to three sets but prevailed in 48 minutes over USA’s 12th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson, 21-13, 17-21, 15-13.
Xue/Zhang upset Brazil’s second-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, 21-17, 18-21 and 15-11 in 48 minutes to earn their semifinal slot opposite May-Treanor/Walsh.
May-Treanor/Walsh, reunited for the first season since winning their second gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, mustered the mental and physical reserve of the champions they are to defeat compatriots and reigning FIVB Swatch World Champions Jennifer Kessy/April Ross in a 46-minute match worth of being a final. May-Treanor/Walsh, three-time world champions and two-time Olympic gold medalists, outlasted their fellow Americans 21-18, 18-21 and 15-10. In the tie-breaker set in front of several thousand fans at the Rome tennis stadium Foro Italico center court, May-Treanor broke open a close set early, gradually pulling away to leads of 9-4, 11-5 and 12-6 before Walsh ended it with a cross-court kill. The win kept May-Treanor/Walsh undefeated against Kessy/Ross at 7-0 in head-to-head matches
In the battle of the stats, May-Treanor record 18 kills, 11 digs and one ace serve in the match while teammate Walsh, who will be in her 56th final four out of 63 FIVB events together with May-Treanor, finished with 11 kills, three digs, six blocks and three aces. Kessy on the other hand, had 25 kills, nine digs and one ace while Ross recorded 15 kills, eight digs and one ace.
“It’s huge,” smiled Walsh afterwards. “We didn’t really have any expectations about beating these teams, but these teams are playing together so long now and so well. We haven’t been playing great volleyball, but we will tomorrow and will the next day. We played one of the very best teams in the world, the defending world champions and we got the best of it. But we still need to play better to win the gold medal in Reme.”
The USA vs. China semifinal will be a battle between Olympic medalists as China’s Xue/Zhang won the bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. In the career head-to-head match-up, May-Treanor lead Xue/Zhang, 7-2, but the Chinese won the last meeting this year in Sanya when May-Treanor had to retire from the match in the second set with an injured right knee. Xue/Zhang won the first set 21-13 and were leading 10-8 in the second when May-Treanor was forced to retire.
“I am very pleased with the outcome tonight,” May-Treanor commented. “Tomorrow we will meet the Chinese and they are very aggressive opponents. We need to win absolutely. We will give our best and we hope to get the victory but they are a very talented young team.”
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa moved to the quarterfinals with their round of 16 win over 10-seeded Brazilian compatriots Carolina Salgado/Maria Clara Salgado, 21-14, 21-15 in 39 minutes. Juliana had 18 kills, 12 digs, two blocks and two aces in the match will her teammate Larissa was credited with 18 kills as well along with a tournament-high 24 digs and two aces.
Czech Republic’s Hajeckova/Klapalova earned their semifinal appearance by defeating Germany’s 24th-seeded Jana Kohler/Julia Sude, 21-14 and 21-18 in 34 minutes on Friday.
The biggest seed break though in the round of 16, Germany’s Kohler/Sude went three sets to defeat Netherlands’ fourth-seeded Sannie Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, 21-17, 17-21, 15-11 in 52 minutes. Czech Republic’s Hajeckova/Klapalova earned their quarterfinal spot with another seed break through by upsetting Australia’s 18th-seeded Louise Bawden/Becchara Palmer, 16-21, 21-19 and 15-13 in 53 minutes.
China’s Xue/Zhang moved to the quarters with a two-set center court victory over home-country favorites Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti of Italy, 21-15 and 21-19 in 35 minutes. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes had a close call in their round of 16 match, moving to the quarterfinals by coming from behind to edge Austrian sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger, 18-21, 21-15 and 22-20 in 55 minutes.
Sunny Roman skies bathed the Foro Italico again Friday as 96 two-person teams representing 31 countries started the competition Monday on five purpose-built courts within the sprawling complex that includes the featured center court within the newly constructed 10,000-seat Rome tennis stadium.
Of the $1 million purse, the gold medal teams in each gender will split $60,000, the silver medal teams $45,000, the bronze medal teams $35,000 and the fourth place finishers will split $28,000.
The losing teams in the second round early Friday finished tied for 9th place and each will split $11,000 in prize money, while the losing teams from Friday evening’s quarterfinals will place fifth and will each team will split $18,000 of the purse. The men will play their quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Saturday afternoon and evening with their medal matches schedule for Sunday late afternoon and evening. The women will have their semifinals early Saturday evening and their medal matches on Sunday late afternoon and evening.
The previous FIVB Swatch World Championships in the current format were held in Los Angeles (1997), Marseille, France (1999), Klagenfurt, Austria (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), Berlin (2005), Gstaad, Switzerland (2007) and Stavanger, Norway (2009). The first FIVB World Championships were held in Brazil in 1987, prior to the start of the current format that began in 1997.
After the FIVB Swatch World Championships, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour takes one week off before it continues with three consecutive Grand Slam double-gender events: June 27 to July 3 in Stavanger, Norway (ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011), July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000. Also on the international calendar during this window and immediately following the FIVB Swatch World Championships will be the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Youth World Championships, for players under 19 years old, June 21-26 in Umag, Croatia.
The 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Championships media guide is now available online in the media section of each gender’s tournament page. More information on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Championships presented by smart is available both www.fivb.org and at www.beachvolleyroma.com.
For more information contact:
FIVB Press Department Director
+41 79 603 3926