Stavanger, Norway, July 1, 2011—Coming out of a day of slightly rising temperatures, times of brilliant sunshine, periods of looming Nordic clouds and the ever-enthusiastic Norwegian fans than filled the Stavanger center court Friday, four talented women’s beach volleyball teams survived three rounds of single elimination bracket play to advance to Saturday’s semifinals and medal matches at the $600,000 FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011.
The world’s top beach volleyball tandems are back at the majestic Vaagen Harbour venue through Sunday as the double-gender stop on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Stavanger hosting its first men’s event in 1999 and its first women’s event in 2002. It is the 10th straight season for that the women’s tour has played in Stavanger. The men’s semifinals and medal matches will close the event on Sunday.
Winning the quarterfinals Friday evening under the lingering light of the Northern summer skies were Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, Netherland’s sixth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, USA’s third-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross and Germany’s 13th-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig.
On Saturday, with the semifinals starting in late morning and continuing to the medal matches in the early evening, the matchups for the women’s semifinals will have the Netherlands' Keizer/Van Iersel meeting USA’s Kessy/Ross and in the other semifinal pitting Germany’s Goller/Ludwig against Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa.
The winners will meet in the gold medal match which will be preceded by the bronze medal match. Following the gold medal match will be the colorful awards pageantry and ceremony.
After 24 of the original 32-team women’s main draw field advanced from two days of pool play, Friday’s busy schedule included three rounds of single-elimination bracket play, ending with the quarterfinals to set the final four teams for Saturday’s women’s final four matches. The men’s tournament, staggered one day behind the women, will play three rounds of single-elimination bracket play on Saturday and conclude the popular Stavanger event. The eight pool winners received first-round elimination bracket byes.
The third of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, the winning pairs in Stavanger will each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishers will receive $18,400.
In Friday’s women’s quarterfinals, played under dark skies with biting winds blowing in off the North Sea, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa defeated Austria’s Hansel/Montagnolli, 21-13, 21-17 in 35 minutes, Netherland’s Keizer/ Van Iersel came from behind to beat USA’s May-Treanor/ Walsh, 18-21, 21-19, 15-11 in 34 minutes, USA’s Kessy/Ross defeated Italy’s Cicolari/Menegatti, 21-17, 21-16 in 34 minutes and Germany’s Goller/ Ludwig stopped Greece’s Arvanti/Tsiartsiani, 21-13, 21-17 in 35 minutes.
In the head-to-head series between the teams on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, Juliana/Larissa increased to 8-0 again Hansel/Montagnolli, Keizer/Van Iersel met May Treanor/Walsh for the first time while Kessy/Ross increased their win streak against Cicolari/Menegatti to 6-0 and Goller/Ludwig broke a tie with Arvanti/Tsiartsiani to go up 4-3.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Norway $13,200 in prize money per team.
Previewing the semifinals, USA’s Kessy/Ross, who have two gold medals and one bronze in the last four years in Stavanger, have a 6-3 career record against Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel while in the other semifinal matchup, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa have an 8-1 edge against Goller/Ludwig.
Goller/Ludwig’s only win in the series with Juliana/Larissa was in the fourth round of the winner’s brackets in 2010 in Brasilia, which Juliana/Larissa quickly avenged in the gold medal match in their home country event.
Following their come-from-behind win over the Americans May-Treanor/Walsh, Netherland’s Van Irsel said, “How surprised are we to have won? On a scale from one to 10—probably and eight. We knew we could be them, but still it’s incredible to do it, especially in a quarterfinal match. It’s just incredible.”
In Saturday’s round of 16, the losing teams received 17th place finishes and each split $5,100 in prize money.
In one of the highlight matches of the round of 16, an all-Brazilian matchup of the top-seeded Juliana/Larissa and fifth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes, Juliana/Larissa battled back to overcome Antonelli/Antunes, 21-15, 19-21, 32-30 in 64 minutes, the longest women’s match of the main draw. Ironically, it was a rematch of last year’s gold medal match in Stavanger, also won by Juliana/Larissa. Juliana/Larissa increased their FIVB career record against Antonelli/Antunes to 14-3.
The 2011 calendar features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event held August 9-14 at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64-million in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.
After the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with two more Grand Slam double-gender events: July 4-9 in Gstaad, Switzerland (1 to 1 Energy Grand Slam) and July 11-16 in Moscow (Moscow Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
The FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011 is the 224th women’s event and 263rd men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB Swatch World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For information on the FIVB Swatch ConocoPhillips Grand Slam Stavanger 2011, please visit the event website at www.wtstavanger.com.