FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Gstaad MAJOR | 7 - 12 July 2015


Press release

Will it be a gold medal or ninth for Talita & Larissa?

Larissa Franca (center) hits at the SWATCH Major Series net in Gstaad as Brazilian partner Talita Antunes follows the action.

Gstaad, Switzerland, July 9, 2015 - For Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil, it is either a gold medal or ninth-place on the FIVB World Tour.

That’s the question this week as the top-seeded Talita and Larissa captured their third of three pool play matches here Thursday mid-day with a convincing 2-0 (21-9, 21-16) win in 28 minutes over 17th-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat of the United States to win Pool A and earn a guaranteed ninth-place finish in the Gstaad Major and a “bye” in the first-round of the 24-team elimination bracket.

After forming their partnership last July, Talita and Larissa placed ninth in their first two FIVB World Tour events before enjoying the “delight” of dominating the international circuit with six-straight events with podium topping performances.  In their next two FIVB appearances, the “disappointment” of two ninth-place finishes “did not sit well” with Talita and Larissa.

Despite missing the Stavanger Major last month in Stavanger when Talita was sidelined with leg injury after playing in Croatia the previous week by winning the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event in Porec, the veteran Brazilian Beach Volleyball players were on a roll by winning three pool play matches before entering the elimination rounds in the United States at St. Petersburg.

The final St. Petersburg pool win was Talita and Larissa’s 44th victory in 45 FIVB World Tour matches highlighted by a 29-match victory string.  The pair ended the 2014 FIVB World Tour campaign with gold medal finishes in Austria, Poland, Brazil and Argentina and started 2015 with titles in Russia and Croatia.  Talita and Larissa’s only setback during the stretch was a 2015 Moscow pool play match against Canadians Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan.

In losing to Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in a three set elimination match in the St. Petersburg, Talita and Larissa placed ninth and missed the first of two medal-sweeping finishes by compatriots Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta and Fernanda Lima/Taiana Lima in the United States Grand Slam.

At the next event in The Netherlands where the Dutch hosted the 2015 FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships, Talita and Larissa won three pool play matches and an opening elimination match before finishing ninth again after being ousted in three sets by Antonelli and Juliana in a “Sweet 16” match.  Again, Talita and Larissa missed the podium sweep by Agatha/Barbara, Fernanda/Lima and Antonelli/Juliana.

In the US$800,000 Gstaad Major, the third of three SWATCH Major Series events on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar, Talita and Larissa have again “cruised” through pool play with three-straight wins by an average set score of 21-13 with wins over pairs from Brazil, China and the United States.  Now, the Brazilians await the second-round of elimination and hope to defeat a third-place pool finisher for a spot in Friday’s afternoon quarter-finals.

With the Gstaad Major being their 11th FIVB World Tour event, Talita and Larissa have compiled a 58-7 record.  Three of their seven losses have been to their Brazilian rivals.  Fernanda and Lima posted an elimination win over Talita and Larissa last year in The Hague while Agatha and Barbara won a pool play match last August in Poland.

Other teams winning pools Thursday to secure a “bye” for the first-round of elimination were second-seeded Agatha/Barbara (Pool B), third-seeded Antonelli/Juliana (Pool C), fourth-seeded Fernanda/Lima (Pool D), 12th-seeded Laura Ludwig Kira Walkenhorst of Germany (Pool E), sixth-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy (Pool F), seventh-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States (Pool G) and ninth-seeded Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan of Canada (Pool H).

All three Swiss teams in the Main Draw remain in the competition, including eighth-seeded Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr, 23rd-seeded Tanja Goricanec/Tanja Huberli and 27th-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre.  While Heidrich/Zumkehr and Forrer/Verge-Depre finished with 2-1 pool marks to place second in their group, Goricanec/Huberli were third with a 1-2 record.

Returning to the Swiss Alps village for the 16th-straight year, SWATCH Major Series staged tournaments last month in Croatia (Porec) and Norway (Stavanger).  The women’s play Friday features three rounds of elimination play.  The semi-final and medal matches will be played Saturday where the winning team shares the $57,000 first-place prize.

Following the Gstaad Major, the FIVB World Tour takes a week off before resuming in the inaugural Yokohama Grand Slam July 21-26.  It will mark the first-time that both men and women have competed together in Japan in a FIVB World Tour event.  Seven FIVB men’s only events were held in Japan from 1989-1995, including a 1991 on stop in Yokohama.  A total of 14 women’s only events were held in Osaka from 1994-2005 and in 2008 and 2009.

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