DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, October 11, 2008 - With two teams in the finals, the United States claimed its 76th womenâ€™s SWATCH FIVB World Tour gold medal here Saturday evening as Nicole Branagh and Kerri Walsh out-lasted and Jen Boss and April Ross for the Dubai Open title.
Competing in their first-ever Beach Volleyball event together, the top-seeded Branagh and Walsh scored a 21-18 and 21-19 win in 46 minutes over the third-seeded Boss and Ross to share the US$28,000 first-place prize while the losers split $19,500 for the silver-medal finish.
In winning her 38th international gold medal, Walsh tied long-time partner Misty May-Treanor for the most titles at FIVB-sanctioned events. May-Treanor did not enter the $350,000 Dubai Open event because of her participation the American â€œDancing with the Starsâ€ television program where she withdrew from the competition because of an Achilles surgery.
Walsh and May-Treanor have captured 35 FIVB titles together, including two Olympic and three World Championship gold medals. May-Treanorâ€™s first three SWATCH titles were with Holly McPeak in 2000. Walsh claimed two FIVB crowns in 2004 with Rachel Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined with an adnominal strain prior to the Athens Olympic Games.
â€œIt is good to finish the season with a gold medal while having the opportunity to play with Kerri,â€ said Branagh, who captured a SWATCH FIVB World Tour title earlier this season with Elaine Youngs in Barcelona, Spain. â€œI felt we got stronger as a team with each match. Todayâ€™s finale featured two teams with big and physical players. We just made the plays at the right time.â€
Walsh has now placed on a SWATCH FIVB World Tour with four different players, including a 2001 bronze-medal finish with McPeak in a Brazilian event. While her first FIVB event with May-Treanor was a ninth place in 2001, Walsh has now medaled with her next three partners as she and Walcholder were third in their first SWATCH stop in 2004 at Stavanger, Norway.
In the bronze-medal match featuring â€œSister Actsâ€ from Austria and Brazil, Carolina and Maria Salgado scored a 20-22, 21-18 and 15-7 victory in 54 minutes over Doris and Stephanie Schwaiger. The Brazilian Salgados split $14,500 for third place with the Schwaigers sharing $10,500. At the end of August in Norway, the Schwaigers defeated the Salgados for the Kristiansand SWATCH bronze medal.
The SWATCH FIVB World Tour event also features menâ€™s competition, with the Dubai Open the first-ever international Beach Volleyball event to be staged in the United Arab Emirates. In the eighth All-European finale on the SWATCH FIVB World Tour, Germanyâ€™s Jonas Reckermann and Mischa Urbatzka challenge Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil of the Netherlands for the gold medal.
In the menâ€™s Dubai Open bronze-medal match, Pedro Salgado joined his sisters on the Jumeirah Beach Park centre court podium as he and Harley Marques posted a 21-18, 19-21 and 15-13 win in 61 minutes over the French Ces brothers (Andy and Kevin).