|BERLIN, GERMANY, June 27, 2004 - What appeared to be a second-straight Beach Volleyball gold medal appearance in the Smart Grand Slam for Argentina's Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde was demolished here Sunday morning by the German 'Recking Ball.
Trailing 7-4 in the third-and-deciding set of Sunday's first semi-final match, Markus Dieckmann and the inspired 'Recking Ball - Jonas Reckermann rallied to capture the 78-minute contest that advanced the third-seeded Germans to their third SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal match.
The Germans will now face the winner of the match between the fifth-seeded Laciga brothers (Martin and Paul) of Switzerland and top-seeded Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Santos of Brazil. The two semi-final winners played for the $43,000 first-place prize in the eighth SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event this season.
"Wow," is how Baracetti described what had just happen to his 14th-seeded team as they appeared in control of the match after rallying from a 21-18 first-set setback to win the second set 25-23. "We had everything going for us before Jonas came alive with both his service and block efforts."
Trailing 7-4, Reckermann scored an "ace" and a service winner to make it 7-6. The Germans finally tied the match at 8s and 9s with Baracetti and Conde regaining an 11-9 lead. A Reckermann blocked tied it at 11s and two more 'Recking Ball efforts made it 13-11. After the Argentineans made it 13-12, Reckermann scored the final two points to put a German team into their first-ever men's or women's final in Berlin.
"We are excited to be in the finals," said Reckermann. "The fans came alive at the end and we were able to make some plays. We were frustrated after losing the second set. We started slow in the final set, but we had enough energy at the end to win."
Dieckmann, whose twin brother (Christoph) placed seventh with Andreas Scheuerpflug in the competition after being eliminated by the Lacigas Saturday, and Reckerman are competing in their 11th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour "final four" in 32 starts together. The 2004 European Champions, the Germans have already placed second this season in Serbia and Montenegro, and Switzerland.
Baracetti and Conde, who reached their third "final four" this season with a bronze medal in Brazil and a silver medal in Puerto Rico, placed second in the 2003 Smart Grand Slam. After losing their first match Thursday, Baracetti and Conde had to win six-straight elimination matches to advance to Sunday's action.
The Argentina pair reached the 2003 Smart Grand Slam final after defeating Dieckmann and Reckermann 21-17 and 21-12 in the semi-finals before losing to Brazil's Franco Neto and Harley Marques in the final. Dieckmann and Reckermann captured the Berlin bronze medal match last year.