Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas capture women’s gold at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open
The tournament was the third event on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar.
As the sun shined from blazing blue skies, palm trees swayed, flags waved in the breeze and the cooling sand glistened on a post-card perfect Mexican Sunday, Second-seeded Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas toppled Brazil’s 12th-seeded Juliana/Antonelli, 21-19, 21-18 in 39 minutes. The match was a continuation, of sorts, for what happened on this year’s Brazilian National Tour where Bednarczuk/Seixas edged compatriots Juliana/Antonelli for the season point championship.
The internationally-televised double-gender event was held on Playa Camerones in the heart of this Mexican resort city on the Pacific Ocean in the State of Jalisco.
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. 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.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH
Admittedly playing their best beach volleyball of the year, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas earned their first gold medal on the tour as a team and individually.
While the score remained close in the first set to the very end, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas made fewer mistakes and held off their fellow Brazilians. With Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli closing to one point after being down by three points at 17-14 and 18-15, Bednarczuk closed out the set with another powerful kill down the middle.
In the second set, Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli grabbed an early 4-1 lead but Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas caught them at 8-8, it was tied again at the next three points until Juliana/Antonelli took the lead again at 14-13. Tied at 15-15, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas broke the game open with two quick points on kills by each player to lead 17-15. They then increased it to 19-16 and 20-17 before Seixas ended the set and match with a kill down the middle after Antonelli had scored to close the gap to two points.
Winners of the 2014 Brazilian national tour and longtime teammates who have reunited in 2014, Bednarczuk/Seixas this was their 12th FIVB World Tour event together and they have two bronze medals in addition to their first silver medal. Overall Bednarczuk has played in 67 FIVB World Tour events and this was her eighth final four placement while Seixas has six final four finishes in the 32 FIVB World Tour events in which she has played.
A seven-time FIVB World Tour season champion, 2011 FIVB World Champion and bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games with her longtime, now-retired teammate Larissa Franca, Juliana and Antonelli were playing in just their third FIVB World Tour event together although Juliana has played in 115 events and Antonelli 93. In three events, the Brazilian duo now has two silver medals and one ninth place so far. Overall, Juliana has 89 final four finishes with 22 career FIVB World Tour silver medals while Antonelli has 40 final fours and this was the 10th silver medal in her FIVB World Tour career.
For the South American powerhouse, Brazil has now won 352 women’s medals overall including 131 gold medals, 109 silver medals and earned 427 final four finishes all-time on the FIVB World Tour out of 263 women’s events.
Winning the finale in Mexico, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas leave Puerto Vallarta with a perfect 7-0 record, the gold medal and they will also split the $11,000 first place prize.
With their loss in the finale, Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli leave Puerto Vallarta with a 6-1 tournament record, the silver medal and they will also share $8,000 in prize money.
CHINA WINS BRONZE MEDAL
In the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open bronze medal match, China’s third-seeded Chen Xue/Xinji Xia hung on to outlast Germany’s seventh-seeded Julie Sude/Chantal Laboureur in three pulsating sets, 21-12, 19-21 and 15-13 in 48 minutes to earn the bronze. The win increased China’s Xue/Xia overall FIVB record against Germany’s Sude/Laboureur to 3-0.
China’s Xue/Xia exploded out of the first serve, dominating the first set to win by nine points. Germany’s Sude/Labourer scratched their way back into the match in the second set. The second set was tied five times after China led 12-9 at the technical time out. Germany’s Sude/Labourer rallied to tie the match and took the lead at 18-17 on a Sude ace that Xue couldn’t handle. After China tied it at 18-18 on a Xue kill, Germany regained the lead at 19-18 on a Sude poke kill just inside the back line. After a Xue kill return went wide left, Sude ended the match for Germany with a block on a Xia attack.
In the tiebreak set, Germany’s Sude/Labourer wouldn’t go away as the set was tied all the way to 7-7 when China’s Xue/Xia re-focused and grabbed a 10-7 lead. The German duo did close to one point three times the rest of the way before Xue ended it with a wicked cross court kill that went untouched.
China’s Xue/Xia is 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 with and this was her 49th FIVB World Tour final four and her 13th bronze medal while Xia has played in parts of two seasons in six tournaments (all with Xue) and this was her second bronze medal.
Germany’s Sude/Laboureur are part of the younger generation of Germany’s extensive pro beach volleyball program. This is their sixth FIVB World Tour event as a team and they have two final four placements. 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 FIVB World Tour events.
China’s Xue/Xia will leave Puerto Vallarta not only at 6-1 record in the tournament, but with the bronze medal, but also the $6,000 prize for third place.
After their bronze medal match loss on Saturday, Germany’s Sude/Labourer will leave Puerto Vallarta with a 5-2 record in the event, an official fourth place finish and $4,500 to split in prize money.
In the first semifinal of the final day in Puerto Vallarta, Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli won a three-set battle with Germany’s Sude/Labourer, finally winning in three sets, 25-23, 13-21 and 15-12 in 58 minutes, the second-longest women’s match of the tournament.
With Germany’s Sude/Labourer playing nearly flawlessly at the net, taking early leads of three and four points. Down 15-19 and just two points away from losing the match, Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli caught fire, scored four straight points to tie the match at 19-19 and after saving on match point at 19-20, stayed tied until scoring the last two points. Juliana scored first on a cross-court killer spike and Antonelli ended the set with her own cross-court kill down the line.
Germany’s Sude/Labourer came out of the sand smoking again in the second set with Labourer’s blocks and Sude’s digs and kills to lead early and often and Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli kept it close enough to be tied five times with the last at 10-10. From there Germany’s duo made few mistakes and pulled away to set the stage for the deciding tie-breaking third set.
In the blistering third set under the blazing blue Puerto Vallarta skies, Germany scored first and had three other early point leads 3-1 and again at 7-6 and 10-9, when the Brazilians began to lit up the sand with precision kills by both Juliana and Antonelli. With the set score being tied nine times, the last at 12-12, Juliana took charge again, scoring the last three points of the set and the match. First she fired a kill right on the sideline, then a kill down the middle and ended it all with a textbook block off a Labourer kill attempt.
As close and as long as the first semifinal match went, the second was much more lopsided as Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas stopped China’s Xue/Xia in twin sets, 21-19, 21-12 in 35 minutes.
The first set stayed close as China’s Xue/Xia kept the pressure on until Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas adjusted at the technical time out pulled enough ahead to hold off a Xue/Xia comeback attempt at 21-19.
Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas picked up in the second set where they left off in the first with spectacular digs, saves and kills by both players to pull away from the Chinese for a nine-point win in the set to give them the match. With Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas raising the level of their game significantly and nearly all of their shots coming up winners, China’s Xue/Xia were not able to keep pace in this match as Bednarczuk/Seixas earned their spot in the gold medal match and Xue/Xia will play for the bronze medal.
After rejoicing in their gold medal victory, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas had plenty to say about their win over compatriots Juliana/Antonelli.
Bednarczuk said, “This is our way of blessing our mothers on Mother’s Day, what a gift for them. Playing Juliana and Maria are like playing your sisters because we played against them so many times on our Brazilian National Tour this year. We won the tour and we won today, but it wasn’t easy. We are playing as good as we can right now, we know where each other is at and we really played good in Puerto Vallarta this week. We can’t wait until the next tournament.”
Teammate Seixas was equally as pleased, saying, “We played very hard in both matches today and very smart. We changed our attack plans when we needed to a little, but overall it was us playing at our best which was definitely good enough here in Puerto Vallarta. We played two very good teams today in Juliana and Maria and the Chinese in our semifinal. We had to be at our very best and we were. For where we are right now, I don’t think we could have played any better than we did this week.”
XUE STILL HAPPY
Always soft-spoken and seldom over-reacting, China’s 2014 FIVB World Champion Chen Xue and her new teammate Xinji Xia, only 17 struggled in their semifinal match Sunday, but Xue was still pleased with her team’s progress after coming back to capture the bronze medal, “We’re a new team and we have already played this German team three times and today was another tough one. In our semifinal match, we got off with the style of play from the Brazilians who are playing great right now. To come back and win the bronze after losing our semi shows that we are continuing to improve our game and we had to fight all the way to win it.”
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.
While this was this was the fifth men and fifth women’s FIVB World Tour event held in Mexico, it was the first for each gender in Puerto Vallarta. Mexico is also hosting the Inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball U17 World Championships this year in Acapulco (July 15-20).
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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