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Gstaad set for all-German final

Ilka Semmler (left) and Katrin Holtwick are hoping to have more to cheer about at the Gstaad gold medal match
Gstaad, Switzerland, July 12, 2014 – The Gstaad Grand Slam is set for an all-German gold medal match on Sunday after Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick and Karla Borger and Britta Buthe won their semifinals on Saturday. 

Borger and Buthe started off with a 2-1 (21-18, 21-23, 15-11) win over Berlin Grand Slam gold medallists Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic and then Semmler and Holtwick needed only two sets to beat Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli 2-0 (22-20, 27-25). 

It is the first time there has been an all-German women’s FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour final and it presents both teams with the chance to win their first ever Grand Slam gold medals.

“Tomorrow we are opponents, but we are good friends and we have had a lot of training camps together,” Holtwick said.

For Semmler and Holtwick their march to the final marks a sharp turnaround in form after they lost two matches in pool play and faced going out before the elimination rounds as they did at the Moscow and Berlin Grand Slams. 

Instead they worked hard to find and show the form that won them the 2012 Aland Open, as well as two silvers and four bronze from other World Tour events. 

“It is amazing,” Holtwick said. “We knew we could beat them because we did it in the Prague Open a few weeks ago, but it was still very tough. We didn’t expect to beat them in two, especially as we made a lot of unforced errors at the start of the second set and were always behind. We always had to fight.

“Of course you need a strategy to play block-defence, but it has to come from the heart to play power volleyball and if we can do that we can beat anybody. We have to think we have to beat anyone and then we can do it.” 

Friendships on hold

“It has been a great tournament for us and it has been a great comeback for us,” Semmler added. “In every single match it has been extremely close and we had to defend all the second balls and match points.”

Like their counterparts Borger and Buthe are no strangers to success having made their breakthrough at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships when they came from nowhere to win silver. 

They added a first World Tour medal earlier in 2014 when they won bronze at the Berlin Grand Slam. 

“It is our first final of the season and our first on the World Tour,” Borger said. “It is incredible because we love Gstaad. We grew up here and played here many times, so it is really special. We want a gold medal; we really want the big one.”

For Borger and Buthe their semifinal was a tough clash against Kolocova and Slukova, a pair who have already made their breakthrough as Grand Slam gold medallists and who were looking refreshed and reinvigorated after two weeks off. 

“We know them very well as we grew up together on the juniors circuit,” Buthe said. “So it was a tough match, but it was great playing against them.”

The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Gstaad Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, July 9 until Sunday July 13 when the men’s and women’s medal matches take place. It is the ninth event and the fifth 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 Transavia Hague Grand Slam which runs from July 15-20. 

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