|MARSEILLE, FRANCE, July 18, 2004 - And the "beat goes on" for the United States' Kerri Walsh in the US$560,000 World Series 13 Beach Volleyball event as she won for the second-straight year a SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event on the Plage of Prado, but with a different partner.
With her regular partner Misty May sidelined the last three weeks with an abdominal strain, Walsh returned to the top spot of the World Series 13 podium with Rachel Wacholder this time after the second-seeded team scored a 21-19 and 21-18 win in 41 minutes over fourth-seeded Annett Davis and Jenny Johnson Jordan in the All-American final.
Walsh, who teamed with May to win last year's Marseille title over Brazilians Sandra Pires and Ana Paula Connelly, and Wacholder shared the $41,500 first-place prize. Davis and Johnson Jordan, the 2000 World Series 13 winners, split $27,500 for the silver medal placement.
Brazil prevented a 1-2-3 American finish for the second-time in the last three SWATCH-FIVB World Tour events earlier Sunday as top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca scored a 21-23, 21-9 and 17-15 win in 56 minutes over 17th-seeded Carrie Busch and Nancy Mason of the United States to captured the bronze medal.
The young Brazilians, who captured last week's Mallorca Open, split $21,500 for third-place finish. Felisberta Silva and Larissa had also netted the bronze medal in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season opener in Fortaleza, Brazil. Busch and Mason split $16,900 for their best finish together on the international circuit.
"I'm excited. Since I am about the same age of Kerri and Misty, I never thought I would ever win a title," said Wacholder, who finished the day with her first-ever Beach Volleyball win. "She is such a great player. She has really adjusted her game to play with me. This is special and a moment I will never forget. The crowd was great and very supportive. They really appreciated our play"
Davis, who won the SWATCH fastest serve award (75.1 kp/h), and Johnson Jordan kept the match close with leads in both sets. After a Davis block tied the first set for the 11th and final time at 15-15, a Wacholder defensive play and a Walsh block gave the Marseille winners the lead for good.
After losing a 12-9 lead in the second set, Davis and Johnson Jordan rallied with three-straight points to gain an 18-17 lead. With breezy conditions throughout the match, two Johnson Jordan shots just missed and Walsh closed out the match with two blocks to secure her 15th SWATCH-FIVB World Tour win.
While Walsh and Wacholder won all six of their World Series 13 matches, Davis and Johnson Jordan were attempting to post a "rare" feat by winning eight-straight matches after dropping their opening contest Wednesday to a team from the Netherlands in the double-elimination SWATCH-FIVB World Tour event.
The fifth of five-straight mixed gender events on the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, the World Series 13 concludes Sunday with the men's gold medal match where Benjamin Insfran and Marcio Araujo of Brazil played Switzerland's Patrick Heuscher and Stefan Kobel in the finals.