Stare Jablonki, Poland, August 18, 2012 – FIVB world champions Juliana Felisberta and Larissa Franca won their fourth straight gold medal at the Mazury Orlen Grand Slam on Saturday when they beat Italy’s Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti in the women’s gold medal match.
Juliana (right) and Larissa were able to celebrate a fourth consecutive gold medal at Stare Jablonki after they beat Greta Cicolari and Marta Menegatti
The Brazilians were in control in the first set, but had to work harder in the second where they saved a set-point before they went on to win 21-16, 22-20 in 38 minutes. In the bronze medal match Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler beat Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova.
“I think it is the people, they understand beach volleyball and they know the players,” Juliana said. “We want to play here and I am really happy for Juliana and Larissa. I am so happy about the gold. We have won here four times in four years and I am so proud about that.
“We knew it would be tough and we had to play hard. I am so happy we could beat these opponents. Now we will go back to Brazil and enjoy the moment.”
In 2013 Juliana and Larissa hope to return to Stare Jablonki to defend the FIVB SWATCH World Championship title they won in Rome in 2011. They were unable to add the Olympic gold to their collection at the London 2012 Olympic Games and left Britain’s capital with the bronze. However, they are already turning their minds towards defending their world title.
“For sure we will be here again,” Juliana said. “It is great here. This place is good for us and I hope we can make it five.”
Cicolari and Menegatti’s silver is their second of the year and their fourth in total after they also won two bronze medals. It caps an impressive season in which they reached the quarterfinals of the Olympics, though a World Tour gold medal continues to elude them.
“We played a good match, though we made some mistakes,” Cicolari said. “Our side-out could have been better, but they are a good side. We are still developing and we are proud of our silver.”
First 2012 medal for Holtwick and Semmler
Holtwick and Semmler had to fight hard to win the bronze medal and needed to come from a set down to beat Russia’s Ukolova and Khomyakova and finish with a 23-25, 26-24, 15-13 win.
After they lost the first set, they then let five second set points slip through their hands before they eventually drew level. Once they got to match point in the third set they held their nerve and won the match with the first chance they had.
“It was a tough game,” Holtwick said. “They sided out well and you have to side-out well against them if you want to win. Twice this year we have finished fourth, so we really wanted to win a medal. That is what I said to myself throughout the match, that I want a medal.”
The bronze is the German duo’s first medal of 2012 and their first World Tour podium finish since they won silver at the 2011 Beijing Grand Slam. Their previous best this season was fourth at the Beijing and Berlin Grand Slams.
“This is the third time we’ve reached a semifinal (this season),” Semmler said. “For us it is really great. We have had a good season. There was a little pressure there as we really wanted to win a medal. It was a tough match because the lead was always changing.”
The Mazury Orlen Grand Slam is the ninth of nine mixed gender tournaments on the 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour and the 10th women’s tournament of the year. The winning side left with the largest share from a pot of $300,000 per gender.
The women’s calendar is set to culminate with the Bang Saen Thailand Open powered by PTT in Thailand which runs from October 23-28.