Bangsaen, Thailand, October 28, 2012 – USA’s Kessy and Ross claimed their third Thailand Open title on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour on Sunday in Bangsaen. In the first ever USA-Russia final in women’s FIVB World Tour history they beat Russia’s Evgenia Ukolova and Ekaterina Khomyakova in two sets: 21-17 21-19.
The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour Bangsaen Thailand Open podium
Brazil’s Barbara Seixas de Freitas won her first World Tour medal ever with her partner since this year Agatha Bednarczuk in the bronze medal match against USA’s Lauren Fendrick and Nicole Branagh (19-21 21-19 15-9).
Kessy (35) and Ross (30) played all six previous editions of the Thailand Open in Phuket, the first one in 2006 with different partners. They won gold before in 2008 and 2009 and finished second last year.
Overall they collected 10 gold, 11 silver and 9 bronze medals in 71 events on the World Tour. The pair won bronze at the Grand Slam in Rome this year and silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Desperate for gold
’’Winning silver at the Olympics was great, but we really wanted this medal’’, Kessy said. ’’We were desperate to win here. We won gold in every year we played together, but this year we left it till the very end.’’
’’It was tough, we fought against the weather here and we reached the final the hard way, through the loser’s bracket, but we did it’’, said Ross, who dedicated her medal to her grandfather who passed away a couple of days ago.
The Russian team, who claimed gold in Klagenfurt this year and bronze in Aland, did not get a lot of chances against the experienced Americans. They were trailing the whole first set, had a small lead in the second set at 12-10, but gave that away again quickly. Russia managed to save one match point at 20-18, but right after that Kessy finished the match with a cross court spike: 21-17 21-19.
Ukolova: ’’This was not our greatest game. We are not happy about our performance today, but we are happy about the end of the season, finishing third and second in the last two events.’’
The battle for the bronze
The battle for the bronze medal was a bit more exciting, with great rallies due to excellent defence by both teams. Agatha and Seixas lost the first set, despite a four-point-lead, to Fendrick and Branagh. The Brazilian team, who were cheered on by a dozen Brazilian tourists, took a lead again in the second, but the Americans levelled at 16-16. With some fumbling and stumbling Agatha and Seixas managed to enforce a tiebreak in the end.
’’We were really tense in the first set’’, Agatha said. ’’But in the middle of the second we said: let’s just enjoy this.’’ Seixas: ’’We decided to let every point count, get the ball over the net any way we could. And some crazy things started to happen.’’ And they did, Agatha even passed the ball with her knee on one occasion.
In the deciding tie-breaker their effort paid off, the Brazilians took a lead from 3-3 and claimed their first medal on their second match point: 19-21 21-19 15-9. Agatha won silver before, with Shaylyn in 2008 in Guaruja, but former youth and junior world champion Seixas was never in a World Tour final four before.
Fendrick and Branagh, who teamed up for the first time, were left with fourth place. For 30-year-old Fendrick it was her second fourth place finish in Thailand. Branagh won the event with Kerri Walsh in 2010 and finished second in 2007 (with Youngs) and 2008 (with Turner).
The Bangsaen Thailand Open, powered by PTT, was the 12th and final event on the women’s 2012 World Tour calendar. The men concluded their season more than two months ago with the Grand Slam in Stare Jablonki.