Kristiansand, Norway, August 30, 2008 - They had played only 17 SWATCH FIVB World Tour events together, with a silver medal from Marseille as the best. Their short international Beach Volleyball history was crowned with gold Saturday in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Otera Open. Maria Antonelli and Vanilda dos Santos Leao of Brazil defeated Norwegians Nila Hakedal/Ingrid Tørlen 21-16, 21-16 in 43 minutes to be the fourth Brazilian tandem to win a World Tour event this season.
"The Norwegians played a great final and had great supporters, but we managed to keep our heads clear and focused on the next point. After some trouble in the first to rounds of the Otera Open, I think our play has improved from match to match. This final was our best performance in Norway," said Maria Antonelli, elected as the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Otera Open’s Most Valuable Player.
Antonelli and Vanilda dos Santos Leao has been a tandem for three years, the first two playing in domestic tournaments in Brazil. Their international breakthrough came with a fifth spot in SWATCH FIVB World Tour Smart Grand Slam in Berlin this season.
"Before Marseille we got our first sponsor, which means a lot to us. Now we don’t have to ask our families to pay our expenses," said Maria Antonelli.
The Norwegians Nila/Ingrid were definitely the favourites of the crowd at the 2,500-seater Centre Court in Tresse. But it didn’t help against the Brazilians.
"We lost to a better team. We had our chances in the beginning of the match, but their self-confidence seemed to grow for every point they got," said Ingrid Torlen.
The third-seeded Norwegian team defeated fifth-seeded Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger of Austria 2-0 (21-15, 25-23) in 55 minutes in their semi-final Saturday morning, while first-seeded Antonelli/Leao scored a 18-21, 21-19 and 15-13 win in 64 minutes against their compatriots, second-seeded Maria Clara Salgado Rufino/Carolina Solberg Salgado in the other semi-final.
In the bronze-medal match, Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger of Austria won their first SWATCH medal by defeating the second-seeded Maria Clara/Carol 21-17, 20-22 and 15-9 in 58 minutes.
No matter what the semi-final results had been, the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Otera Open would have produced a first time World Tour winner. Nila/Ingrid and Antonelli/Leao have lost one final each, the Norwegians in Shanghai 2007 and the Braziliens in Marseille 2008. Maria Clara and Carol have bronze medals from Stare Jablonki and Marseille 2008, while Schwaiger/Schwaiger played their first World Tour semi final ever in Kristiansand.
Play in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Otera Open 2008 continues through Sunday when the final four men’s teams compete for the $28,000 first-place prize in the 15th of 20 women’s events on the 2008 SWATCH FIVB World Tour calendar.