Juliana Felisberta Silva (left) and Maria Antonelli from Brazil win their first gold as a team at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open.
Xiamen, China, October 12, 2014 – Juliana Felisberta
Silva and Maria Antonelli from Brazil clinch their first gold together
at the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Xiamen Open on Sunday. The
$150,000 Xiamen Open is the third visit to China for the 2014 FIVB World Tour
and the second consecutive year in Xiamen.
Juliana/Antonelli finally take home
their first gold medal as a team, beating Wang Fan and Yue Yuan from China, 2-1 (20-22, 21-17, 15-13).
Despite topping the 2014 FIVB points table, a gold medal had yet eluded the
Brazilian pair until their final World Tour tournament of the season.
“I cannot describe how I feel because I have worked too
much to get a gold. I started the journey in Fuzhou this year and now probably
finish the World Tour season and I get gold. I’m really happy because my team
is getting improved and I really hope that next year I make a great season
again,” said Juliana.
Both Juliana and Maria Antonelli enjoyed great success
with former partners and used the 2014 season to work on their new partnership
with help from their coach Leticia Pessoa, who has coached the likes of Alison Cerutti and
Emanuel Rego within the Brazilian team.
“This medal means that we will stay together. It’s been
a difficult year for me and Juliana, we changed our team and I’m very proud of
my new team. They believe in us and now we have more points than all the teams
of the world. Now we are the champion of the world so I’m very proud of my
partner. We believe in our team and our new coach, she deserves it because she’s
one gold woman,” said Antonelli.
Juliana/Antonelli lost four FIVB World Tour finals
this year and with Wang Fan/Yue Y. fully utilising their home advantage, the
Brazilian pair had to pull out all the stops to ensure it did not happen again.
The Chinese pair delighted the crowd on Guanyinshan beach with some truly great
rallies ending in point after point for Wang Fan/Yue Y.
But Juliana/Antonelli were never far behind and at
10-10 a couple of unforced errors by Wang Fan gave Brazil the lead for the
first time. It was even all the way to 20, before two outstanding ace serves
from Yue Yuan left Juliana/Antonelli motionless and the first set went to China.
The Brazilian pair knew they had to step it up and took
the lead in the second 7-3 thanks to Juliana’s domineering presence at the net.
A number of huge slams by Antonelli helped to close the second set for Brazil.
In the tie-break, a huge rally opened the set ending in Juliana/Antonelli’s
favour to give that extra lick of confidence. Yue Yuan continued to power down
her incredible serves at over 70kmh and edged closer to Brazil bringing the
score to a level 9-9.
The pressure began to show as a stream of
errors from both sides racked up the points to 14-11 to Brazil. Antonelli kept
her cool at match point for a big smash and secured the gold medal for her
“The Chinese girls played very good and they were
playing at home and all the people here shout for China. I really like to play
like this. They had a good season and probably those girls are going to be
getting better next season too,” said Juliana.
Fan/Yue Y. is their second medal in 2014 after taking silver in another Chinese tournament at the opening Grand Slam of the year in Shanghai.
“We’re feeling really great because this is our last
tournament this year so even though we’re feeling a little disappointed that we
didn’t become the champion, this is like a perfect end to the season.
“We are familiar with the weather of China, the
spectators are really enthusiastic and give us a lot of support so that helps
us and gives us confidence,” said Yue Y.
Wang Fan/Yue Y. were meeting Juliana/Antonelli for the
fourth time in 2014, with the Chinese pair winning only one of the previous
clashes, at Gstaad Grand Slam.
“This is the fourth time we have played the Brazilian
team this year and even though we beat them once they didn’t play well. To meet
them again is our honour because they have a lot of experience and we can learn
“We are capable
and we need this kind of confidence to improve on our weaknesses and build
more confidence for the future,” said Wang Fan.
Wang Fan and Yue Yuan, a new pairing for 2014, just
missed out on a medal losing the bronze medal match at the Berlin Grand Slam
and were not ready for the same experience in Xiamen. In their semifinal
against USA’s Tealle Hunkus and Kendra Vanzwieten, Wang Fan/Yue Y. soon stamped
their authority on the match taking the win 2-0 (21-14, 21-9).
for USA qualifiers Hunkus/Vanzwieten
The bronze medal match saw Hunkus/Vanzwieten up against Vasiliki
Arvaniti and Maria Tsiartsiani from Greece. The American girls were clearly
ready and a couple of huge hits by Hunkus allowed the US pair to creep ahead in
the first set. Two unforced errors into the net from Greece and Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani
lost confidence allowing Hunkus/Vanzwieten to take five points in a row. Another
big slam from Hunkus ended the set 21-12.
The US pair gave Greece little chance to use their strength
and continued to cleverly adjust their play, choosing the best strategy for
each moment. Every Arvaniti/Tsiartsiani attack was met with a Hunkus block giving
the Greek girls no chance to get ahead. A final Hunkus block and the bronze was
USA’s 2-0 (21-12, 21-15).
“I think we did a really good job once again
communicating and growing as a team and every match you can feel the growth
within the team and that’s awesome. Especially coming off this morning when we
didn’t really play well so to come out this afternoon like that is awesome,
it’s definitely a testament to the team,” said Hunkus.
“We only watched the Greek teams' match against Brazil
and on one of the first days with the high wind, so it really didn’t give us a
good gauge. They were amazing though, they played a good side-out game, they
made us work for it for sure,” said Vanzwieten.
Hunkus/Vanzwieten entered the tournament with the
lowest entry points of all of the four USA teams in Xiamen, but were finally the
team to progress furthest. Hunkus/Vanzwieten earned a bye in the qualification
round to enter directly into the main draw.
“You always hope for a medal. We were ready for a long
battle because we thought we were going to have to play in the qualifier so we
weren’t really sure how it was going to go and this is our first FIVB together so
we’re here just trying to get better as a team,” said Vanzwieten.
“You come you’re not sure what’s going to happen like
Tealle said, we thought we were in the qualifier to begin with so to come away
with the bronze is awesome and it’s definitely momentum going into the next few
weeks for sure,” said Hunkus.
With the Grand Slam portion of the 2014 FIVB World Tour
now complete, the tour continues after Xiamen with four more FIVB Open events.
The tour will travel to Argentina for the FIVB Parana Open (Oct. 28-Nov. 2)
before heading to Doha for the men-only FIVB Qatar Open (Nov. 4-8). India will
then host the double-gender FIVB Vizag Open (Nov. 25-30), before the 2014
calendar comes to a close in South Africa with the double-gender FIVB Mangaung
Open (Dec. 9-14).