Gdansk, Poland, July 27, 2008 - The "third-time was the charm" for Natalja Bratuhhina and Mari-Liis Graumann as the Estonians netted their country's first-ever women's gold medal at a FIVB Beach Volleyball event by capturing this week's US$15,000 Challenger/Satellite event here Sunday.
Seeded second in the 16-team Main Draw, Bratuhhina and Graumann had placed ninth in their previous two FIVB starts last season in Cyprus and China before posting five-straight match wins the past two days to claim the $3,400 first-place prize.
After winning three times Saturday, Bratuhhina and Graumann posted a pair of wins Sunday starting with a 20-22, 21-10 and 15-13 semi-final win in 50 minutes over third-seeded Magdalena Michon and Agnieszka Woloszyn of Poland followed by a 21-16 and 21-16 gold medal win in 37 minutes over sixth-seeded Courtney Guerra and Janelle Ruen of the United States.
The Americans had to play an extra match after losing in three sets to Bratuhhina and Graumann Saturday. After starting Sunday with a 34-minute elimination win over 11th-seeded Julie Rodrigue and Jennifer Thomson of Canada, Guerra and Ruen scored a 20-22, 21-18 and 15-13 semi-final victory in 50 minutes over 13th-seeded Martyna Wardak and Ilona Zielinska of Poland. With their 4-2 record in their first-ever FIVB event together, Guerra and Ruen split $2,400 for second-place.
In the All-Polish bronze medal match, Michon and Woloszyn scored an 18-21, 21-15 and 15-12 win in 55 minutes over Wardak and Zielinska. Michon and Woloszyn split $1,700 for third-place with their compatriots sharing $1,300 for fourth-place in the third women's FIVB Challenger/Satellite event on the 2008 calendar.