Stavanger, Norway, June 30, 2007 - In “one of the most stunning upsets” in the 15-plus-year history of the women’s SWATCH-FIVB World Tour, Jen Boss and April Ross captured the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam title and the prestigious “Viking” swords here Saturday afternoon before an over-flowing crowd of 5,000 at the Vaagen Harbour centre court.
In becoming the lowest-seeded team (29) to win a SWATCH title since the start of the international Beach Volleyball circuit in 1992, Boss and Ross posted a 21-14 and 21-12 gold medal win over third-seeded Jia Tian and Jie Wang in 44 minutes.
With the gold medal, Boss and Ross shared the $43,500 first-place prize in the second of five “major” events on the 2007 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour calendar. Tian and Wang, who had won their previous six ConocoPhillips Grand Slam matches to advance to their ninth FIVB title match in 20 SWATCH starts, split $29,500 for their second-straight grand slam silver medal.
“Unbelievable, but not unexpected,” said the 29-year old Boss as she left the court after winning her second FIVB gold medal. “April’s service game put us in the position to make the Chinese work extra hard to return her serve. That’s our game and we are sticking with it.”
Boss and Ross were playing their 11th match of the week Saturday afternoon after advancing from Monday’s country quota match through the qualifier with a pair of wins Tuesday to earn a spot in the 32-team Main Draw. After losing to first two pool play matches Wednesday, Boss and Ross won their next six contests to claim the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam title.
After eliminating teams from Canada, the United States and Greece Friday, Boss and Ross earned a spot in the finals earlier Saturday with a 21-19 and 21-18 semi-final win in 45 minutes over Germany’s Sara Goller and Laura Ludwig. The 17th-seeded Germans also had to win country quota and qualifying matches to earn a spot in the Main Draw where Goller and Ludwig also posted a 1-2 pool play mark.
Ross, who was competing in only her fourth FIVB event as compared to Boss’ 26th, was named the SWATCH most outstanding player for the event. Her serve of 84.0 km/h in the gold medal match was also the top serve of the ConocoPhillips Grand Slam and the second fastest for the season. Boss had previously won a FIVB Satellite event in 2001 with Heather Lowe in Thailand.
For China, it was their third-straight setback to an American team in a SWATCH final. The previous two setbacks were to reigning Olympic and world champions Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Tian Wang avenged their Paris gold medal setback to May-Treanor and Walsh to defeat the Americans in Saturday’s first semi-final 21-19 and 21-19 in 47 minutes.
Despite Saturday’s setback, Tian and Wang continue to lead the SWATCH-FIVB World Tour’s points standings by 800 points over Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva and Larissa Franca (3,780 to 2,980). Tian and Wang also lead the season earnings list with $153,000 for seven SWATCH stops this year.
In the bronze medal match, May-Treanor and Walsh scored a 21-15 and 21-13 win in 36 minutes over Goller and Ludwig, who were competing in their second SWATCH “final four” in the past three weeks after claiming a silver medal in Portugal. It was the Americans second ConocoPhillips Grand Slam win over Goller and Ludwig as the Germans dropped a pool play match to May-Treanor and Walsh Wednesday.
The SWATCH-FIVB World Tour continues next week in Canada before returning to Europe for the third grand slam event in Berlin July 10-15 followed by a stop in Marseille and the $1-million SWATCH-FIVB World Championships in Gstaad, Switzerland.