Klagenfurt, Austria, August 5, 2011 – Battling courageously through two elimination rounds Friday, four women’s teams rose from the Klagenfurt sand to advance to Saturday’s semifinals and medal matches at the $600,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt am Wörthersee.
The world’s best beach volleyball tandems are back in Austria through Sunday as the double-gender event marks the 15th consecutive visit by the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour with Klagenfurt hosting 14 previous men’s events and 10 previous women’s events. In 2001 Klagenfurt hosted the FIVB Swatch World Championships and has hosted a grand slam every year since 2002.
Winning the emotionally draining and physically demanding quarterfinal matches at the spectacular purpose-built Klagenfurt venue that was filled to overflowing were USA’s fourth-seeded Misty May-Traenor/Kerri Walsh, Netherland’s eighth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, Brazil’s third-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes and China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang.
One of the most popular events of many ‘all-time favorite’ events on the FIVB Swatch World Tour, the Klagenfurt venue features a fan-friendly purpose-built 8,000-seat center court stadium and massive two-story VIP hospitality area alongside the shore of spectacularly beautiful Lake Woerth in western Klagenfurt, which is located in southern Austria and is known as one of Austria’s top summer holiday destinations.
The last of seven “major” tournaments on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour schedule, the A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank in Klagenfurt, the women’s semifinals and medal matches will be played Saturday with the men’s “final four” matches Sunday as the winning pairs in 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 finishing teams will each receive $18,400.
Saturday’s star-studded final day of women’s competition will start in mid-morning with the semifinals and continue through the medal matches and pageantry of the awarding ceremony in late afternoon, the matchups for he women’s semifinals will have USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh vs. Netherland’s Keizer Van Iersel and the other semifinal will pit China’s Xue/Zhang vs. Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes.
In Friday’s quarterfinal matches USA’s May-Traenor/Walsh held off Spain’s 11th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez, 21-17, 21-16 in 33 minutes, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel defeated Czech Republic’s 14th-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova, 21-19, 21-19 in 39 minutes, China’s Xue/Zhang came from behind to defeat Brazil’s 12th-seeded Carolina Salgado/Maria Clara Salgado, 18-21, 22-20 and 15-12 in 54 minutes and Brazil’s third-seeded Maria Antonelli/Talita Antunes beat USA’s 19th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Hanson, 21-17, 21-16 in 38 minutes.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and each team leave the tournament in Austria with $13,200 in prize money.
Previewing the semifinals, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel won the only meeting with May-Treanor/Walsh in three sets this year in Stavanger, Norway, and China’s Xue/Zhang has a 10-5 career FIVB record against Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes although the Brazilians won the last meeting between the two in three sets in the bronze medal match last Saturday in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
With their quarterfinal victories, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh increased their 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour season record to 46-9, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel is 41-16, China’s Xue/Zhang is 50-15 and Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes is 50-19. For USA’s legendary May-Treanor/Walsh, this is their 58th final four appearance in 68 FIVB international events together while Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel have made it to the final four for the ninth time in 36 events together, China’s Xue/Zhang are in their 32nd final four in 64 events as a team and Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes will be playing in their 26th final four in 39 FIVB tournaments as a team.
“We’re playing against good teams and it’s that tough time of the season where everyone is peaking and capable to playing great matches,” said Walsh who not only has four gold medals in Klagenfurt, but another with Rachel Wacholder when May-Treanor was sidelined for awhile with an injury in 2004. “It’s good to be back in the semis and Misty and I are playing very well this week and it feels wonderful.”
Echoing her teammate’s sentiments, May-Treanor said, “The Spanish team is playing very well and they are very physical. We had a game plan and we didn’t have to adjust much. We weren’t serving great, but we were working hard on scoring transition points and that really made a big difference, especially scoring points after long rallies.”
China’s Zhang said after their quarterfinal win, “We lost to the Salgados the last time we played them which was way back in November of last year in Phuket in three sets and we didn’t want that to happen again. We started slow, got stronger in the second set and then really put pressure on them in the tiebreaker set and it worked out for us. This will be our fourth event in a row we have made it to the final four and we have a silver, bronze and a fourth and we would really like the gold this time.”
In Friday’s round of 16, held before the quarterfinals, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each split $8,000 in prize money.
In Friday’s mornings round of 16 matches with a capacity crowd already on-site at the Klagenfurt center court, Czech Republic’s Kolocova/Slukova came back to defeat USA’s 16th-seeded Angie Akers/Nicole Branagh in three sets, 17-21, 21-15 and 18-16 in 54 minutes, the longest match of the second round.
In the other second round matches Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel defeated Switzerland’s 18th-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr, Spain’s Baquerizo/Fernandez outlasted Brazil’s 25th-seeded Liliana Maestrini/Angela Vieira in three sets, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh beat Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig to move to 6-0 against them in their FIVB career, Brazil’s Antonelli/Antunes held off Russia’s 26th-seeded Anastasia Vasina/Anna Vozakova, USA’s Fendrick/Hanson upset Austria’s Schwaiger/Schwaiger, Brazil’s Salgado/Salgado pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament in defeating Brazil’s top-seeded Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca for only the second time in 13 FIVB career matches and China’s Xue/Zhang eliminated Italy’s sixth-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti.
The reigning FIVB Swatch World Champions and current FIVB Swatch World Tour point leaders, Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa had a 3-2 record in Klagenfurt, and their 2011 FIVB overall match record is now 56-9. The Salgado sisters eliminate Juliana/Larissa in two sets, 27-25, 21-18 in 34.
The talented field 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 Klagenfurt 12 of the previous 14 years and seven of the previous women’s gold medal winners. Three of the men’s gold medal teams are playing with new teammates at the extremely popular event and venue.
Last year’s men’s final four finishers in Klagenfurt were USA’s Phil Dalhausser/Todd Rogers (gold), USA’s Matt Fuerbringer/Nick Lucena (Silver), Brazil’s Alison Cerutti/Emanuel Rego (bronze) and Brazil’s Marcio Araujo/Ricardo Santos (fourth place).
In last year’s women’s competition, Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca won gold, with silver going to Brazil’s Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima, the bronze was won by Germany’s Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig and fourth place to Austria’s own Barbara Hansel/Sara Montagnolli.
Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa also won the Klagenfurt gold medal in 2009. The other Klagenfurt gold medal team back this year is USA’s two-time Olympic champions Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh who struck gold here together four times (2002, 2003, 2005 and 2007) and Walsh also won here in 2004 with Rachel Wacholder.
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 A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank, the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour takes a week off for the 24-team women’s only Olympic test event in London’s Horse Guard’s Parade. Following that event, Europe hosts the final two double-gender open events of 2011 in Aland, Finland from August 15-21 and The Hague, Netherlands from August 23-28. The FIVB will then present the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old, August 31-September 4 in Halifax, Canada.
The $600,000 A1 Grand Slam presented by Volksbank is the 229th women’s event and 268th 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 Klagenfurt venue 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.beachvolleyball.at.