FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Sao Paulo Grand Slam | 23 - 28 septembre 2014


Press release

Brazil holds off Italy to win women’s gold at FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam

Brazil's Larissa Franca, left, digs deep to pass the Mikasa to Talita Antunes as the Brazilians came from behind to beat Italy's Menegatti/Orsi Toth in three sets to earn the gold medal Sunday at the FIVB Sao Paulo Grand Slam.

São Paulo, Brazil, September 28, 2014 — It may have taken 55 minutes, to decide it, but for the packed stadium in Brazil, it was a treat to experience as host-country favorites Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes came from behind and held off the valiant effort by Italy’s Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth Sunday to capture the gold medal during the closing day of the double-gender US$800,000 FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam.

The 2014 FIVB Bach Volleyball World Tour stop was held 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 closed the FIVB São Paulo Grand Slam in the Barueri stadium center court. Netherlands’ Christiaan Varenhorst/ReinderNummerdor won the men’s gold medal prior to the start of the women’s finale.

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.

With all the ups and downs and emotion of a Coney Island roller coaster, the women’s gold medal match was an energy-draining, crowd-pleasing nail biter that eventually kept the home-country fans on their feet cheering Brazil’s seventh-seeded Larissa/Talita Antunes who came from behind to defeat Italy’s surprisingly tough 11th-seeded Menegatti/Toth in three sets, two of which went to overtime. When it was over, Brazil’s Larissa/Antunes scrapped and fought their way to a victory over Italy’s Menegotti/Toth, 18-21, 23-21 and 19-17 in 55 minutes.

Teams with a contrasting style of play as well as experience met for gold Sunday as Italy’s young and talented 11th-seeded Menegatti/Orsi Toth  battled toe-to-toe with Brazil’s veteran and super-talented seventh-seeded Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes as experience and the home-country support barely proved to be the difference in the outcome. It was the first meeting between the two teams as Brazil’s Larissa/Talita leave São Paulo with a perfect 7-0 match record and the gold medal while Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth leave with a 5-2 record and the silver medal.

As a team, this is the fourth final four appearance and first medal 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 28-4 record since combining as a team this year. They were playing in just their fifth FIVB World Tour event together and now have three gold medals. Individually, Larissa has 49 career FIVB gold medals while Talita has earned 21 career FIVB gold medals.

With the capacity crowd on the Barueri stadium center court cheering, dancing and on their feet the majority of the match, Italy started by playing flawlessly with the net play of Orsi Toth and the kills and digs by Menegatti. In the first set there were four ties and just two lead changes as the Italians played near flawlessly in executing their game plan while anticipating where the Brazilians would attack most of the set. The last tie was at 9-9 where the Italians scored twice to take their second two-point lead at this point which they kept until the final set winner when Larissa’s serve went long to end the set.

The second set saw seven ties and three lead changes as Brazil’s Larissa/Talita seemed to pick up their game some but Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth weren’t about to quit.  After Talita’s corner kill gave Brazil a 14-11 lead, Italy answered four straight points to pull ahead 16-14, but Brazil answered with two straight to tie the set at 18-18. The set was tied at 19-19 on a Talita kill down the middle, but Menegatti answered with a kill of her own to save set point after Talita had scored on a block of Menegatti to go ahead 20-19. After exchanging points to tie the set at 21-21, Brazil scored the final two points on a Talita kill off of Orsi Toth and a great dig and a huge kill down the middle by Larissa that again brought the crowd to their feet.

The full-house was almost raucous at this point, waiting for the tiebreaker set and rooting for their home country heros. Brazil’s Larissa/Talita didn’t disappoint, scoring the first point, but the score in the set would wind up being tied 15 times with four lead changes before Brazil won it and the match, 21-19 where 15 points is the regulation total. After Brazil led early, Italy led briefly at 8-7 before Brazil scored three straight on a block and two kills by Talita to go up 10-8. Italy tied it again at 13-13 and after Italy saved a match point, Italy somewhat silenced the crowd with three points to take a 17-16 lead.

Brazil then saved a match point, trailing 17-18 on a Talita cross court kill before Italy saved a match point to tie it at 19-19 when Menegatti stuffed Talita at the net.  Brazil then ended the set and won the match with a Talita poke shot followed by a Talita hook shot kill to just inside the sideline, giving Brazil the overtime set and match victory.

Larissa (BRA): “We are managing to get out of difficult situations, even with a short amount of time together. This is very positive because we didn't know how the partnership would be. We knew the quality of Talita and Larissa, but we needed to function as a team. Fortunately things are going well. A lot of pople thought that we would win easy, but the favouritism doesn't go on the court, they played a great game. This type if victory gives a very big mental strength.”

Talita (BRA): “The Italians should be congratulated, they did an excellent job to get to the final on merit. They are a new team, players that will keep getting better. I think that our experience helped a little, to stop, breathe and put your head in a place to return the ball. It was an emotional game, we knew their style of play; fast, and that we would just win if we made the minimum amount of errors.”

Marta Menegatti (ITA) “It's a second place in a FIVB Grand Slam, and that's okay for us, we are so happy, so satisfied, but when you're here to play a final you want to win and when you lose, especially so close, it's not good.”

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 22-9 overall so far as individual Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, (1-2), Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli (4-1), Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes (8-0) 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 was 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 was 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 31 women’s events in Brazil, the home country has earned 19 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.

With the grand slam portion of the 2014 FIVB World Tour now complete, the tour continues through December with five FIVB Open events spread across the globe. Remaining on the 2014 calendar are four double-gender FIVB Open events along with one men-only FIVB Open tournament.

Next up, the 2014 FIVB World Tour will travel to China for the double-gender FIVB Xiamen Open (Oct. 7-12), followed by the double-gender FIVB Parana Open (Oct. 28-Nov. 2).

After those two events, the 2014 FIVB World Tour will head to Qatar for the men-only FIVB Doha Open (Nov. 4-8) then on to India for the double-gender FIVB Chennai Open (Nov. 25-30) before concluding in South Africa with the double-gender FIVB Mangaung Open (Dec. 9-14).

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