FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Sao Paulo Grand Slam | 23 - 28 septembre 2014


Press release

Brazil to meet Italy for women’s gold at FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam

Brazil's Maria Clara Salgado, left, and Netherlands' Madelein Meppelink battle at the net during the women's bronze medal match Saturday won by Netherland's Meppelink/Marleen van Iersel at the FIVB Sao Paulo Grand Slam.

São Paulo, Brazil, September 27, 2014 — After impressive semifinal victories Saturday, women’s teams from Brazil and Italy will meet for the gold medal Sunday during the closing day of the double-gender US$800,000 FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam. The 2014 FIVB Bach Volleyball World Tour stop is being held in São Paulo through Sunday in a purpose-built venue on the grounds of the Barueri Arena.

On Sunday, the women’s and men’s gold medal matches and awarding ceremony will close the FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam in the Barueri stadium center court.

Gold medal winning teams in each gender in São Paulo will split $57,000, silver will receive $43,000, bronze medalists get $32,000 and the fourth place finishers will earn $24,000 of the $800,000 total purse.

Teams with a contrast in style of play as well as experience will meet for gold Sunday as Italy’s young and talented 11th-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth (5-1 match record in São Paulo) will face off against Brazil’s veteran and super-talented seventh-seeded Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes (6-0 without losing a set) as experience might and the home-country support might just prove to be the difference in the outcome. It will be the first meeting between the two teams.

As a team, this is the fourth final four appearance with no medals so far for the Italians in 16 events as a team. Individually, Menegatti is playing her 68th FIVB World Tour event with four silver medals and 16 final four finishes to her credit.  Orsi Toth is playing her 28th tournament overall with three fourth place finishes and four final fours on the world tour. In 2010, the Italian duo won the silver medal at the FIVB U21 World Championships in Alanya, Turkey.

Brazil’s Larissa/Talita, both former FIVB World Tour champions and Olympians, have a 27-4 record since combining this year, are playing in just their fifth FIVB World Tour event together with two gold medals. Individually, Larissa has 48 career FIVB gold medals while Talita has earned 20 total gold medals.

Competing for the bronze medal Saturday afternoon, Netherlands’ ninth-seeded Marleen van Iersel/Madelein Meppelink upended Brazil’s 13th-seeded sisters Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado, 21-15, 21-14 in 33 minutes.

Netherland’s van Iersel/Meppelink were playing in their 11th tournament as a team and this was their third final four appearance and they now have two bronze medals. Individually, Meppelink was playing in her 62nd FIVB tournament with one gold medal and van Iersel was playing her 97th event with four career wins. They finish the tournament with a 6-2 tournament match record.

As a team, this was the 124th FIVB World Tour event for the Salgado sisters and their 21st final four appearance with two gold medals as a team and now have 21 final four finishes. They also finished the event with a 6-2 match record.

With all action now on the Barueri stadium center court, Saturday’s first women’s semifinal Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth hold off Netherlands’ van Iersel/Meppelink in three sets, 21-15, 18-21 and 15-11 in 50 minutes.  In the all-Brazilian second semifinal, Brazil’s seventh-seeded Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes overwhelmed compatriots Brazil’s 13th-seeded sisters Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado, 21-15, 21-15 in 34 minutes.

In the first semifinal Saturday, Italy’s Menegati/Orsi Toth kept their torrid pace alive though it took three sets to overtake the  Netherlands’ van Iersel/Meppelink for just the second time as the Dutch won the first meeting between the two teams in three sets in April.

After pulling ahead quickly in the first set, Italy caught fire in the second to even up the match with the Dutch and for a tiebreaker set.  Tied point for point early in the deciding set, Italy pulled away with several outstanding plays at the net and in serve reception to pull out the victory.

All veteran players and FIVB gold medal winners, the second semifinal was the first FIVB World Tour meeting between Brazil’s Salgado sisters and Brazil’s newest women’s team in Larissa/Talita. While both sets were close early, with Talita’s dominance at the net and Larissa’s hitting and serving, Larissa/Talita played near flawlessly, keeping the pressure on to pull away in both sets for a significant win over one of many country rivals.

Viktoria Orsi Toth (ITA): "At the end of the tie-break I was shaking, I wasn't feeling good, I had some bad and good sensations. It's a dream, it's my first time in a final, I'm very happy and very emotional. We have worked really hard in this season, and sometimes we lost some important matches by just two points and now finally everything goes in the good way. It's unexpected but we worked really hard for this.”

Marta Menegatti (ITA): “I feel very good, this is not my first final in the World Tour, but this is my first final with Viki, just one year and two months that we have played together, so the satisfaction is... I have no words! We worked a lot, we like each other in the court and outside the court and I think this is our strength, and we never give up. I said to Viki to think ball by ball. We just kept calm. We lost at the beginning of the season against the Netherlands in the European Championship at home, so we took our opportunity to win against them.”

Larissa (BRA): “I was a year and a half without playing and then returned to the sand. The principal motivation was to get a place at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. We are fighting for our fifth consecutive title and I'm very happy to return to the FIVB World Tour and form a very strong partnership with Talita. More important than the results is the performance of the pair, because Larissa and Talita are big players, but we still need to see if we form a good team. We are worried about the Italian team because no-one gets to the final by accident. We will study them a lot because to play a stage like the FIVB World Tour in Brazil is very special, and we really want to win this title at home.”

Talita (BRA): “We have a lot that we need to evolve, to grow step by step. Each game we find something new, something happens and we need to adapt. We always go on court trying to give our best.”

Marleen Van Iersel (NED): “I'm feeling really excited, this is our last tournament of the season and I'm really happy we closed it off with a medal.
I think we can be very happy with this as a first year, we've had our ups and downs, I think the highest point was winning the European Championships and we got bronze two times bronze, so I think for the first year I'm really happy and I'm looking forward to continuing playing with Madelein. We are two really good players, but it's always a question of whether you fit together as a team, but I think this year has shown that we really do fit together as a team and I'm looking forward to the future. I think we both have our own qualities and we find ways to help each other. After we lost our semifinal, I first I yelled really loud, then we went back to the hotel and I took a very long shower and let it all go, and then I decided that when I got out of the shower I was going to switch that button and be ready for the next game.

Madelein Meppelink (NED): “I'm really happy, this is our last tournament of the season and to close it off with a win and a medal, I'm just really happy. I think we can be really happy with the year. We also became European champions, and had two bronze medals and one more semis. We knew that when we started playing together we could be a good team, we had our ups and downs during the season, but to end it like this is great.
Next winter we start training hard again and it's a pre-Olympic season, so it is really important. We're going to work our arse off to qualifying for the Olympics.”

As the host nation, Brazil started with six women’s teams in the field of 32, four teams automatically pre-seeded into the main draw and the two that advanced from the qualifier. For the women, the pre-seeded main draw teams from Brazil 21-9 overall so far as individual Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, (1-2), Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli (4-1), Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes (7-0) and Liliane Maestrini/Rebecca Cavalcanti (2-3). Advancing from the qualification tournament were Taiana Lima/Fernanda Alves (1-2) and sisters Carolina and Maria Clara Salgado (6-2). Bednarczuk/Seixas and Lima/Alves were eliminated from pool play and the other four advanced to elimination play. Juliana/Antonelli finished fifth, Maestrini/Calvalcanti finished ninth, while Larissa/Talita are playing for gold and the Salgado sisters finished fourth.

The FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam is the 310th FIVB men’s tournament since its first event in 1987 and the 274th FIVB women’s tournament since FIVB began women’s competitions in 1992. There has been at least one FIVB World Tour event in Brazil since it started 28 years ago and this is the 36th men’s and 31st women’s FIVB World Tour event held in Brazil.

With extremely enthusiastic standing-room-only crowds in the stadium center courts each event, in the first 30 women’s events in Brazil, the home country has earned 18 gold medals following the by the USA with 11 and China has the other gold. Brazil has swept the podium five times in women’s tournaments. Most recently, the Brazilian women’s most recent sweep was in 2008 in Guarajà.

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