Stare Jablonki, Poland, July 29, 2011 – Fighting through the fury of two elimination rounds Friday, four women’s emerged from the Stare Jablonki sand at the Hotel Anders venue to advance to Saturday’s semifinals and medal matches at the $600,000 Mazury Orlen Grand Slam. The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are in Poland as the double-gender event marks the eighth consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch world tour with Stare Jablonki hosting seven previous men’s events and three previous women’s events. This is also the second year it has been a grand slam instead of an open event. Overall, this is the 10th men’s event held in Poland (Myslowice hosted in 2009, 2010), and eighth women’s event held in Poland (Myslowice hosted in 2008 and this year and Warsaw in 2006, 2007).
Winning the exciting quarterfinal matches on the Hotel Anders center court early Friday evening were Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca, China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, Brazil’s fourth-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes and USA’s fifth-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.
The Hotel Anders resort and spa in the Mazury region of northeast Poland has hosted this event since in began in 2004. Stare Jablonki is a village of just 750 permanent residents that swells to over 30,000 for the week of this event and the Mazury region is known throughout Europe for having more than 1,000 lakes. The smallest population area the FIVB Swatch World Tour visits every year, the Hotel Anders event has a history of drawing among the largest of all crowds annually on the tour.
The sixth of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam, the winning pairs in each gender share the $43,500 first-place prizes. The women’s semifinals and medal matches will be held on Saturday and the men’s on Sunday. Silver medalists will split $29,500 while bronze medal winners will divide $23,000 and the fourth place finishing teams will each receive $18,400.
On Saturday, the women’s semifinals will start in the late morning and continuing through to the medal matches in late afternoon, the matchups for the women’s semifinals will have USA’s Kessy/Ross vs. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes and the other semifinal will pit China’s Xue/Zhang vs. Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa.
In Friday’s quarterfinal matches, the all-American challenge saw Kessy/ Ross defeat USA’s second-seeded Misti May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh, 21-16, 21-19 in 33 minutes, Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes topped Germany’s 12th-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 21-17, 21-17 in 30 minutes, China’s Xue/Zhang stopped USA’s 10th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh, 21-12, 21-15 in 30 minutes and Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa overwhelmed Spain’s 13th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, 21-12, 21-14 in 29 minutes.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Poland with $13,200 in prize money.
Previewing the semifinals, USA’s Kessy/Ross has a 7-5 career FIVB record against Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes including the last two meetings this year. Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa has a long history of playing against China’s Xue/Zhang, holding an all-time series advantage over them of 18-6, including winning the four meetings between the two teams this year. Most recently Kessy/Ross won both their meetings this year including the most recent one in two sets in Shanghai on May 7. For Juliana/Larissa, they have won all four meetings against the Chinese this season, including the most recent one in the semifinals of the Moscow Grand Slam on July 16.
With their quarterfinal victories, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa increased their world tour season record to 51-7, while Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes, went to 44-18, China’s Xue/Zhang have a 45-13 season record and USA’s Kessy Ross are 52-14 on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Obviously pleased with their first win in eight tries against May-Treanor/Walsh on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, Ross commented on their quarterfinal win over the two-time Olympic champions saying, “We played our game today and it worked. We watched video of our loss to them in Rome at the world championships we concentrated on our missed opportunities and looked for what we could do differently. Jen and I really trusted each other well in this match on our calls.”
“They made a few more mistakes then they normally do and that was a key to our victory as well. After losing a match in pool play we re-grouped and learned from our mistakes. We get frustrated if we don’t play well and this win puts us in the semis where we want to be in our next step. In retrospect, there aren’t a lot of teams who can say they have beaten Misty and Kerri.”
May-Treanor/Walsh leave Stare Jablonki with a 41-9 record on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.
In Friday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each split $8,000 in prize money.
In the eight matches in the round of 16, there was one forfeit (Italy’s Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti forfeited by medical reason to USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh), but four of the battles went three sets in order to determine a winner.
In the USA/Italy match, Italy withdrew because Cicolari was having problems with the knee she had surgery on approximately one year ago.
In the closest and longest match of the round of 16, Spain’s 13th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez stunned eighth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel in a three-set barn-burner that lasted 54 minutes, 21-19, 23-25 and 17-15. Last week in Quebec, Canada, Baquerizo/Fernandez finished fourth, the first final four placement for a women’s team from Spain in the 20-year history of the FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Another of the tight three-set matches saw Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler eliminated Brazil’s 11th-seeded sisters Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado, 21-19, 15-21 and 19-17 in 51 minutes.
Although they both still came out on top, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa and Antonelli/Antunes were both pushed to three sets in the round of 16. On the Anders center court, Juliana/Larissa overcame Germany’s surprising country quota/qualification team Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, 21-15, 15-21 and 15-19 in 40 minutes while Antonelli/Antunes, who won their first FIVB Swatch World Tour gold medal of the season in Canada last week, held off Czech Republic’s 16th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, 21-15, 10-21 and 15-7 in 44 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals.
The talented field this year includes the entire final four finishers from both genders from last year as well as at least one member of the men’s gold medal teams in Stare Jablonki and the last two women’s gold medal winners. Six of the men’s gold medal teams are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to China’s Chen Xue/Xi Zhang bronze to Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes and fourth place to Austria’s Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli.
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa also won the Stare Jablonki gold medal in 2009.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Stare Jablonki were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), Germany’s Julius Brink/Jonas Reckermann (Silver), Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (Bronze) and Germany’s David Klemperer/Eric Koreng (fourth place).
The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour 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 $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour has its last of six 2011 Grand Slam double-gender events in Klagenfurt, Austria (A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank Klagenfurt 2011). Each grand slam had $600,000 purses and the other major event this year, the 2011 FIVB Swatch World Championships in Rome had a $1 million total purse.
The $600,000 FIVB Swatch Mazury Orlen Grand Slam Stare Jablonki 2011 is the 228th women’s event and 267th 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. While this is the 25th year that the FIVB has sanctioned international pro beach volley events, it is the 23rd year of the men’s and 20th year of the women’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.
Also on-site this week at the Hotel Anders this week is a special production crew from IMG, the company that not only produces the live international telecasts of select matches, but also the weekly FIVB Swatch World Tour highlight show that is syndicated throughout the world.
For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit www.fivb.org or visit the event website at www.worldtour.pl.