Ross and Walsh find golden ending at Moscow Grand Slam
Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2014 – April Ross and Kerri Walsh claimed their first Grand Slam gold medal when they defeated reigning FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour champions Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima on Sunday.
The USA pair defeated the Brazilians 2-1 (21-17, 22-24, 15-13) in a match that swung backwards and forwards between two determined teams until Ross and Walsh nudged ahead right at the end of the third set before winning with their second match point.
“They came to win, they are a very good team and we were the number one and two seeds in the tournament so I think we both wanted to be here,” Ross said.
“I loved how we pulled it out in the end. We played as a team and it feels really good to win again.”
It is Ross and Walsh’s second gold medal of 2014 after they won the season opening Fuzhou Open in China. They first teamed up in mid-2013 and won the Sao Paolo and Xiamen Grand Slams before the end of the year.
The pair joined together after their previous partners – Misty May Treanor and Jennifer Kessy – retired from the sport. Walsh is targeting a fourth Olympic gold at Rio de Janeiro 2016, having won her third against Ross at London 2012.
They now move on to the Berlin Grand Slam, the second of seven Grand Slams in an eight week period.
“It is so huge,” Walsh added. “Every win is important on the World Tour and we cherish and learn from every one. I virtually gave away set two because I set like a rookie and I’m so proud with how we stuck together. April didn’t quit on me, she didn’t get mad at me.
“They were relentless and it is great to start this long run of matches with a win and now it is on to Berlin.”
For Talita and Lima the silver medal is their first of the season and sets them up well for a period that features seven Grand Slams in eight weeks.
In 2014 they won five Grand Slam gold medals on their way to the World Tour title in only their first year together, but lost to Ross and Walsh in the Sao Paolo final.
“It was a hard game,” Talita said. “I think they served better than us, but it was a good match, a final. I think the people here enjoyed it and it was good for them to watch and good for Kerri and April to win.
“It is good to be back in a final again, but now we have to forget about this and think about Berlin. We won there last year and I think there is a good vibe there for us.”
Dutch delight for van Iersel and Meppelink
Newly crowned European champions Madelein Meppelink and Marleen van Iersel ensured that they took home a medal for the second week in the row when they defeated Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo in the bronze medal match.
The Dutch pair defeated the Spanish duo 2-1 (21-19, 18-21, 15-12), but needed to fight back hard in the third set to do so.
“It was a close game and we’ve played them before and lost, so I really wanted to beat them,” Meppelink said. “I’m just really happy right now, but also tired.
“We were so far behind and we had to give everything or nothing. I was serving and then the wind started to pick and I think that caused problems for them.”
The pair have proven to be an instant success since teaming up at the start of the season. They have both enjoyed World Tour success with their former partners, but their success in only a short space of time shows that they are likely to be in contention for the top prizes in the weeks and months to come.
“Last week we became European champs and it was so hard to back that up,” Meppelink said. “We were so tired coming here, but we said we are here now and we need to play.
“Somehow Moscow has good things for me. I qualified for the Olympics (London 2012) here and I finished fifth a few times, so I really like Moscow.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Moscow Grand Slam ran from Wednesday, June 11 through to Sunday June 15. It was the sixth event and the second Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Berlin Grand Slam which runs from June 17-22.
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