Back together again, Brazil's Talita Da Rocha Antunes (facing camera) and Maria Antonelli claimed gold
Campinas, Brazil, June 1, 2013 - Maria Antonelli and Talita Da Rocha Antunes sent the Campinas crowd wild with a 2-0 (23-21, 21-12) win against USA's Olympic silver medallists April Ross and Jennifer Kessy to claim gold and the title of Continental Cup champions on the penultimate day of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Final.
Reunited just for this tournament after both finding success with new partners in 2013, it was Antonelli and Talita's first success in an international competition in Brazil and both were extremely happy with the familiar combination and the result.
"We still have a very good understanding," said Talita. "Even better than what we have at the moment with our current partners. We wanted to play this tournament remembering all the good things we've done together. It was really good to play alongside Maria again, we have a real energy on the court and I'm very happy we managed to win."
The first set was a close battle, but just as in Brazil's semi-final win against Australia Antonelli's serves were a handful for her opponents and Brazil forced a USA error to take the set 23-21.
"We were having trouble setting Maria's jump serves," admitted Ross after. "It was hard for me to push it up to the net. Certain conditions favour certain servers and I think Maria has a lot of topspin on her jump serves, so she was fine in these conditions."
Brazil raced into an early lead in the second set and never relinquished the advantage to claim the second set 21-12 and a 2-0 victory that the Campinas public lapped up. Alongside the gold medals, they also received the title of Continental Cup champions and $50,000 prize money.
"I'm so happy because this tournament is new, it was staged in Brazil and we managed to represent our country in the best way possible," said a proud Antonelli, acknowledging the local support partner Talita had described as the pair's "third player" on Friday.
Even the USA were happy with the local support, with Kessy admitting that it was the nicest Brazilian fans had ever been with them. "Today they were respectful," she said. "They weren't cheering for us, but they weren't cheering against us. The atmosphere was fantastic, it's always good in Brazil. Even if they have 200 fans, the Brazilians are as loud as 7,000 fans."
Ross-Kessy received $35,000 in prize money in addition to their silver medals as tournament runners-up.