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Brazil’s Lili/Vieira win gold at Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International

Podium finishers Sunday at the 2011 Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International: Brazil's Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima (bronze), Brazil's Angela Vieira/Liliane Maestrini (gold) and USA's April Ross/Jennifer Kessy (silver)

London, Great Britain, August 14, 2011 – Experiencing just a foretaste of how delectable it will be next year at this time, Brazil’s Liliane Maestrini and Angela Vieira captured the gold medal at the 2011 Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International, a women’s Olympic test event held at the iconic Horse Guards Parade in the historic heart of central London that concluded its week-long run Sunday.

Part of the London Prepares series of test events for several Olympic sports, this event was presented by the London 2012 Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) in collaboration with the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the British Volleyball Federation, the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International Olympic test event carried with it a special $10,000 total purse.

In a stirring, crowd-pleasing finale to a week-long preview event for the London 2012 Olympic Games, Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira came from behind to defeat USA’s world No. 4 Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, 10-21, 21-15 and 15-13 in the golden 49-minute finale. For Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira, it was their first victory over America’s Kessy/Ross after suffering two losses on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Tour. Both teams finished with 6-1 records in London. Brazil’s Maestrini was also honored with the Visa Hero Award for her play in the gold medal match.

The venue for this event featured a 1,500-seat centre court, but for the London 2012 Olympics next August, a massive 15,000-seat stadium will be built on the historic site. The event was part of the London Prepares series that features test events for several Olympic sports.

As the packed stadium that included Rolling Stone’s Ronnie Woods and Great Britain’s five-time Olympic Rowing gold medalist Sir Steve Redgrave enjoyed a sample of what the competition will be like next year, USA’s Kessy/Ross dominated the first set after the score was last tied at 4-4.  In the second set, Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira jumped out to 30 and 4-1 leads before USA’s Kessy/Ross tied the match at 5-5, 6-6, and 7-7 before Maestrini and Vieira both made amazing plays both offensively and defensively to pull away and earn the set win.

In the deciding tiebreaker set, USA’s Kessy/Ross scored first and the teams battled back and forth with for ties with the last at 5-5 when Brazil’s Maestrini/Vieira moved ahead by two points. USA’s Kessy/Ross came back to tie the score at 13-13 then Maestrini score the final two points of the match on a poke shot down the line and won it by blocking a Ross kill.

Statistically in the gold medal match, Brazil’s Maestrini had three blocks and five digs while her teammate Vieira was contributed one ace serve and 12 digs.  For the USA, Kessy had two aces, two blocks and 10 digs while Ross had 12 digs in the exciting finale.

After greeting family and friends in a brief victory celebration, Maestrini commented, “I don’t know, what can I say? It was a wonderful day, the crowd here was incredible. In all situations against this team it’s tough. They are world champions so it was point for point all the way. It was really, really tough.  We never knew we were going to win the match until we actually did it. We are just one of many Brazilian teams and we will keep fighting to be one of the teams to come back here to London next year.”

In the bronze medal match Sunday, Brazil’s world No. 26 Vivian Cunha/Taiana Lima fought through the gallant challenge given them by Great Britian’s Lucy Boulton/Denise Johns to beat the gritty British duo in front of their home-country fans in two tight, straight sets, 21-19, 21-18 in 39 minutes.  In earning the bronze medal, Brazil’s Cunha/Lima finished with a 6-1 record in London while Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns, finished with a 4-3 mark on the Horse Guards parade center court sand.

In the first set there were seven ties with the final one at 18-18 and in the second set there were 11 ties with the final one at 17-17 before Brazil pulled away for the victory. Brazil’s Cunha had two aces, one block and two digs in the bronze medal match while Lima also had one ace as well as three digs. For Great Britain, Boulton had four digs and Johns had one ace, one block and four digs to end their tournament in London.

After winning the bronze medal against a home country team, Cunha said, “We’re sorry for disappointing the fans and beating the English, but we are very happy to win. We tried to be very focused for our game and kept trying to turn it around. The turning point was when we started to be in the lead in the second set. The low point for us here in London was losing the semifinal and the high point was winning the bronze medal.”

Sunday’s final day began with the semifinals where the all-Brazilian match saw Maestrini/Vieira defeat Cunha/Lima, 22-20, 21-16 in 42 minutes. The two teams have a 2-2 record against each other on this year’s FIVB Swatch World Tour.

In the tight first set between these teams who face each other so often on the Brazilian national tour, was tied three times early before Cunha/Lima actually took three points leads at 10-7, 11-8 and 15-12 before Maestrini/Vieira came back to tie the match at 16-16. From there Cunha/Lima went back up 19-17 but once again Maestrini/Vieira came back to tie it at 19-19, saved one set point while scoring the last three points to win the set. In the deciding second set, Maestrini/Vieira started strong maintaining a 3 or four point lead until Cunha/Vieira came back to tie the set twice at 13-13 and 14-14 before the winning duo pulled away to four and then five point advantages to earn the set and win the match. For the match, Brazil’s Viera had one ace and 11 digs while Maestrini also had one ace, six blocks and two digs.  For the other Brazilian team, Cunha had one ace and five digs while Lima came up with 11 digs.

In the second semifinal, USA’s Kessy/Ross came out of the gate fast to dominate the first set, Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns came back strong to win the second set and the Americans closed out the match with a powerful tiebreaker third set to win the match. USA’s Kessy/Ross eventually won the 49-minute match, 21-13, 17-21 and 15-10. While this was the first meeting between the two teams this year, USA’s Kessy/Ross won all three matches against Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns in two sets during the 2010 FIVB Swatch World Tour. USA’s Kessy/Ross had won 11 straight sets in this event prior to Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns winning the second set in this semifinal.

In the first set, USA’s Kessy/Ross took control after the score was last tied at 3-3 while in the much closer second set, Great Britain’s Boulton/Johns scored first holding a two-point margin until the first tie of the set at 5-5. The British duo then pulled back ahead though Kessy/Ross did narrow the gap at 16-18 before Boulton/Johns score the final three tallies of the set.

In the deciding tiebreaker, USA’s Kessy/Ross scored first and the set was tied at 1-1, 2-2 and 3-3 and 6-6 before the Americans began pulling away, building up to their final margin of five at 13-8. In the second semifinal, USA’s Kessy had one block and eight digs while Ross had three aces and five digs. For Great Britain, Boulton had one ace, one block and five digs while Johns was credited with one ace and five digs.

“This week at Horse Guards Parade has been invaluable and a wonderful experience for the FIVB. The Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International has provided the perfect opportunity to test a range of issues and situations which will stand us in good stead come Games time,” Technical Delegate and FIVB Beach Volleyball Commission secretary Vicente Araujo said. “The media and spectator interest has been impressive and of course the spectacular setting of Horse Guards Parade has been inspirational, while the legacy of the sand, which will be used to create new beach volleyball courts, is also very important to us.

“The response of the athletes concerning the event has been very encouraging and thanks to the great crowd support, they have had a glimpse of what it will be like next year. Of course there are some areas where will continue to liaise and fine tune with LOCOG but now after this extremely successful week we can focus on London 2012 with great confidence.”

A total of 13 of the 16 teams who made the elimination rounds in this week’s London event are regulars on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour calendar that features 15 women's and 14 men's events, including 12 double-gender tournaments, within all five FIVB confederations plus this one special 24-team single-gender women’s test event being held through Sunday at London’s Horse Guards Parade, the venue for beach volleyball at the 2012 London Olympic Games. The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour is offering $7.64m in prize money. Twelve of the tournaments are combined men's and women's events, including the World Championships and all six Grand Slam stops.

Following this week’s event in London, Europe hosts the final two double-gender open events of 2011 in Aland, Finland from August 15-21 and The Hague, Netherlands from August 23-28.  The FIVB will then present the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch Junior World Championships for players under 21 years old, August 31-September 4 in Halifax, Canada.  The 2011 FIVB Swatch World Tour will conclude with two single-gender events with the men competing for the first time in Agadir, Morocco, October 4-9 and the women returning to Phuket, Thailand, November 1-6 for the sixth straight year.

For more information on the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour, please visit or visit the event website at

  Press Contact - FIVB Press Director Richard Baker,
Email:     Mobile. + 41 79 603 3926 or +44 7714 537 400


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