|SANTA PONSA, MALLORCA, July 10, 2004 - There was another Brazilian women's team atop the podium here Saturday in the US$360,000 Mallorca Open, but it was not the familiar Beach Volleyball names of Bede/Behar, Pires/Silva or Rodrigues/Samuel.
Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca are the new gold medal winners from the South American country as the young Brazilians scored a 21-17 and 21-12 gold medal match win in 39 minutes over second-seeded Suzanne Lahme and Danja Musch of Germany.
With the win, the soon-to-be 22-year old Felisberta Silva and the 22-year old Larissa shared the $27,000 first-place prize while the older and more experience German team split $18,000 for their silver medal finish. Both Germans are in their 30s with five Olympic volleyball (Indoor and Beach) appearances between them.
"We were expected to win due to our seed," said Felisberta Silva, "but it is a lot tougher once you start playing. As Brazilians, we are expected to be very competitive and win important matches. Today, we were able to deliver against two very tough and experience teams. We are honoured to join the other great Brazilian women's teams as international gold medallist.
Since placing third in their initial event this season in March at Fortaleza, Brazil, Felisberta Silva and Larissa posted two fifths, a seventh and one non-Main Draw qualifying 33rd before capturing their first-ever title SWATCH-FIVB World Tour gold medal in only their sixth international start together. In addition to a gold medal, a Mallorca Open trophy and her share of the winnings, Larissa was also awarded a SWATCH watch for her fastest serve in the finals (69.2 km/h).
After losing Friday's to fourth-seeded Summer Lochowicz and Kerri Pottharst of Australia, Felisberta Silva and Larissa rebounded to defeat teams from Italy, the Czech Republic and finally Lahme and Musch. Of the three matches, the Brazilian's 28-30, 22-20 and 15-13 win in 66 minutes over Italian Olympians Lucilla Perrotta and Daniela Gattelli was their toughest.
The young Brazilians advanced to the finals with a convincing 21-17 and 21-12 win over 11th-seeded Eva Celbova and Sona Navokova of the Czech Republic in a 38-minute semi-final match. Lahme and Musch scored a 21-18, 15-21 and 15-8 win in 53 minutes over Lochowicz and Pottharst to earn their spot in the finals.
Brazil is now 4-0 in women's gold medal matches against Germany. Musch played with Bete Buhler in the first final in August 1996 after the Olympic Games where they lost to Atlanta gold medallists Sandra Pires and Jackie Silva. With Maike Friedrichsen as her partner, Musch dropped title matches to Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede in the 1996 Jakarta event before losing to Monica Rodrigues and Adriana Samuel in the 1997 Japan stop.
In Saturday's bronze medal match, Celbova and Navokova scored a 21-14, 19-21 and 18-16 win over Lochowicz and Pottharst in 56 points. The Czech shared the $14,000 third-place prize while the Aussies split $11,000 for fourth-place.