Two Brazilian duos, China, Germany in women’s semis at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open
With women’s competition ending Sunday on the refreshing sands of the purpose built, four-court complex on the picturesque Playa Camarones, the tournament is the third event on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.
Starting at 10 a.m. (CT) Sunday, the internationally-televised women’s semifinals and medal matches on Playa Camerones in the heart of this Mexican resort city on the Pacific Ocean in the State of Jalisco. The women’s gold medal match is slated for first serve at 3 p.m. (CT)
The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) international tour is back in Mexico for the first time since 2006 for its first event in Puerto Vallarta being held on Playa Camarones adjacent to the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort and Convention Center. The FIVB World Tour has had eight previous tour stops in Mexico. Acapulco hosted double-gender events in 1999, 2005 and 2006 and Rosarito hosted one double-gender tour stop in 2000.
Earning their way with five wins each so far in this tournament, the teams in the women’s final four of the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open are: Brazil’s second-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli, China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xinji Xia and Germany’s seventh-seeded Julie Sude/Chantal Laboureur.
With two three set-matches and two ending in straight sets, the women’s quarterfinals lit up the same sand their male counterparts who were playing their medal matches Saturday. All of the final four teams enter Sunday’s final day with unblemished 5-0 records at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.
One of the first two quarterfinals pitted two teams from the same country as Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli hung tough to defeat Brazil’s top-seeded Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes, 25-23, 21-13 in 45 minutes. In the second quarterfinal, Germany’s Sude/Labourer overcame USA’s 20th-seeded Heather Hughes/Christal Engle, 22-20, 16-21, 15-5 in 47 minutes.
In the final two quarterfinals Saturday, China’s Xue/Xia stopped home country favorites Mexico’s ninth-seeded Martha Revuelta/Bibiana Candelas, 21-15, 21-14 in 34 minutes and Bednarczuk/Seixas came from behind and then held off Argentina’s upset-minded 11th-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, 18-21, 21-15 and 15-10 in 53 minutes, the longest match of the women’s quarterfinals.
The losing teams in the quarterfinals, Brazil’s Lima/Antunes, USA’s Hughes/Engle, Mexico’s Revuelta/Candelas and Argentina’s Gallay/Klug all leave Puerto Vallarta with official fifth place finishes and each team will share $3,375 in prize money. Both new teams, the USA and Mexico tandems each posted their highest FIVB World Tour finishes to date on Saturday.
After their quarterfinal victories, meeting in Sunday’s mornings first semifinal will be Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli playing against Germany’s Chantal Labourer/Sude followed by China’s Xue/Xia meeting Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas. This will be the first meetings for both teams in each match.
A seven-time FIVB World Tour season champion, former FIVB World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Juliana and Antonelli are playing in just their third FIVB World Tour event together along Juliana has played on it for 12 years and Antonelli for 10 years. In two events, the Brazilian duo have one silver medal and one ninth place so far. Overall, Juliana has 45 career FIVB World Tour gold medals while Antonelli has 11 in her FIVB World Tour career.
Germany’s Laboureur/Sude are part of the younger generation of Germany’s extensive pro beach volleyball program. Both 24, this is their sixth FIVB World Tour event as a team and they have one silver medal. Overall, Labourer, 24, the 2008 FIVB U19 World Champion with Levke Spinger, has played 27 tournaments over the past six years while Sude, 26, has played in 60 over the past 11 years.
China’s Xue/Xia are another new team and this is also their sixth FIVB World Tour event together. They have won two gold medals already. Overall this is Xue’s 12 FIVB season and she has played in 107 tournaments 17 FIVB gold medals while Xia has played in parts of two seasons in six tournaments (all with Xue).
Winners of the 2014 Brazilian national tour and longtime teammates who have reunited in 2014, Bednarczuk/Seixas this is their 12th FIVB World Tour event together and they have two bronze medals. Overall Bednarczuk has played in 67 FIVB World Tour events over eight seasons while Seixas has played in 32 tournaments over nine seasons.
A seven-time FIVB World Tour season champion, former FIVB World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Juliana is as enthusiastic as ever as she enjoys her newest adventure.
Playing with Antonelli for the first time this year, Juliana commented on her new team, “We are continuing to get stronger and stronger and that’s what we want. It is always tough to beat Taiana and Talita and today was another one of those battles we have so often on Brazil’s national tour. All three of our Brazilian teams here in Mexico are playing very well so it is only inevitable that we would meet somewhere during the elimination rounds. Maria and I are playing with a lot of confidence, but we are still a new team. We are used to playing in heat and humidity so here in Puerto Vallarta it’s kind of like playing at home."
Always soft-spoken and seldom over-reacting, China’s 2014 FIVB World Champion Chen Xue and her new teammate Xinji Xia, only 17 continue to emerge as one of the top teams in the world. After Saturday’s impressive wins over teams from the USA and Mexico, Chue commented, “Xinji is improving rapidly and that’s good for us as a team. We had to go three sets to defeat the USA team today and I think that got our attention and we played more aggressively from the start against the Mexican team. They had the crowd and we had to overcome that as well, but we are where we want to be.”
Starting to play together at the end of last year, Xue has 17 career FIVB World Tour gold medals including two with Xia at the end of last season.
The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 300th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 263rd FIVB women’s tournament since each started play in 1992.
Mexico is also hosting the Inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships this year in Acapulco (July 15-20).
The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will each split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500. The men medal matches will be held on Saturday and the women’s medal matches will be held on Sunday.
Based in Lausanne, Switzerland as the international governing body for the Olympic sports of Beach Volleyball and Volleyball, the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 10 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.
The 10 FIVB Open tournaments in 2014, seven double-gender, two men only and two women only, have $150,000 total purses for the double gender events and $75,000 for the single-gender competitions.
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