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First Grand Slam gold as Semmler and Holtwick win all-German affair

Ilka Semmler (left) and Katrin Holtwick were all smiles after winning their first Grand Slam golds, in Gstaad
Gstaad, Switzerland, July 13, 2014 – Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick claimed their first ever Grand Slam gold medals when they defeated fellow Germans Karla Borger and Britta Buthe in the Gstaad Grand Slam gold medal match on Sunday. 

It was the first time that two German teams had met in an FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour final and Semmler and Holtwick enjoyed the best of a tightly-fought match to win 2-0 (24-22, 21-16).

“I can’t sum up how it feels because there are so many emotions,” Semmler said. “I’m excited, I could cry and I could scream. I never imagined we would win this tournament here.”

Semmler and Holtwick are no strangers to World Tour finals, but after winning the maiden World Tour gold medal at the 2012 Aland Open, they fell narrowly short at the 2013 Berlin Grand Slam.

In total they have won one World Tour gold, three silvers and five bronze medals since they first teamed up in 2006. 

However, the week started badly as they won only one of their pool play matches and narrowly squeezed through to the elimination rounds, an echo of their recent slump when they were eliminated from the Berlin and Moscow Grand Slams at the pool stage. 

“It has been a crazy week,” Holtwick said. “We’ve had a few bad weeks and felt like we were going back to that form. It was a big final for all of us and now we can enjoy the moment.”

Despite failing to claim their first World Tour gold medal the silver is another sign of the progress that Borger and Buthe are making as a team. 

Having made an unforeseen breakthrough by claiming silver at the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, they won their first World Tour medal earlier in 2014 with bronze at the Berlin Grand Slam. 

“We’re a little disappointed because we didn’t play as well as we wanted,” Buthe said.

“We’re not really pleased with how we played. They played well and they are a very good team, but we hoped to play better.

“Nonetheless we can take a lot of motivation from this tournament because we played very well at times and know we can compete with and beat any team when we play our best.”

Czech mate for Kolocova and Slukova

Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova continued their impressive run of success in 2014 when they defeated Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli in the bronze medal match. 

The Czech pair dug deep in the first set and then fought back after falling behind early in the second to beat the Brazilians 2-0 (27-25, 21-19).

“It was such a tough match,” Kolocova said. “We didn’t start off well in either set, but we came back unbelievably in both sets and we stuck together. The second was a little easier and really tough in the last rally.

The bronze medals are the pair’s third set after they won gold at the Berlin Grand Slam and Prague Open earlier in 2014. Their best prior to 2014 were a number of quarterfinal finishes.

“I can’t believe the season we are having,” Slukova said. “This is our third medal and we were waiting to have this season. We stuck together and fought for each point and even we were trailing by a lot of points at time we just took it point by point.”   

The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Gstaad Grand Slam ran from Wednesday, July 9 until Sunday July 13 when the men’s and women’s medal matches took place. It was 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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