FIVB VolleyWorld 11/2013 - English - page 6

Looking over the field it was hard to make any concrete predictions after
the vast majority of female and male teams were shaken up and mixed
about. In the end it was some familiar faces in new-look teams that led
the way in 2013.
Despite being a new pairing, Brazilians Talita Antunes and Taiana Lima
were the dominant female pair throughout the season. Even when they
were not at their best they still managed to find a way onto the podium
and were fitting winners for the top spot in the season rankings.
At the start of the season Talita and Lima did not hang around and won
the first of their five FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour gold medals at the
opening Grand Slam of the year in Shanghai with a win over Austrian
sisters Doris and Stefanie Schwaiger.
They followed their win in Shanghai with gold medals at the
Grand Slams in The Hague, Rome, Long Beach and Berlin and
then a silver medal in Xiamen. With five golds in the first eight
Grand Slams of the season, they were the runaway leaders. In fact
so dominant have they been that they could afford to only add
the silver medal from the Xiamen Grand Slam in the final three
Grand Slams and still remain top.
Brazil’s Salgado sisters Maria-Clara and Carolina enjoyed their
best year after Carolina returned to the beach following the
birth of her first child in 2013. They began the season well with
two bronze medal places in Shanghai and Corrientes and then
grabbed silver in The Hague; another silver medal followed in
Long Beach, before eventually they won their first Grand Slam
gold medal in Moscow.
Also making a dramatic return was triple US Olympic gold medallist
Kerri Walsh, albeit without her long-term partner Misty May-Treanor.
She first teamed up with April Ross in Gstaad with the long-term
goal of winning a fourth Olympic gold at the 2016 Olympic Games in
Rio de Janeiro. They reached the knockout stages in the Swiss Alps,
but then reunited to win the Sao Paolo and Xiamen Grand Slams and
send an early warning of what the rest of the teams will face in 2014.
For surprises though the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships
were like none before them. While the well-established Chen Xue and
Zhang Xi of China finally added a global title to their 2008 Olympic
Games and 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship bronze
medals, few would have expected them to defeat Germany’s Karla
Borger and Britta Büthe in the gold medal match.
One tournament caught the attention after the publication of the
2013 Beach Volleyball World Tour dates – the FIVB Beach Volleyball
World Championships in the ever-popular Stare Jablonki in Poland.
However, there were also a further 10 Grand Slams over four FIVB
confederations to contend with and new venues and conditions to
adapt to in Corrientes (Argentina), Long Beach (USA) and Xiamen
Supplementing the Grand Slams and contributing points to the World
Rankings were four Open tournaments. The Fuzhou Open in China
marked the start of the FIVB beach volleyball season and after further
Opens in Anapa (Russia) and Phuket (Thailand) the 2013 season
concluded with the Durban Open on the shores of South Africa’s
Indian Ocean. Players also earned points in continental competitions
and their domestic tours.
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