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Just like old times

Larissa França will a reception in her match against the United States with "new" Brazilian partner Talita Rocha

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 16, 2014 - Despite being away from the international Beach Volleyball scene for almost 22 months, nothing has really changed for legendary Brazilian player Larissa França as she returned to competition here Wednesday morning on Scheveningen beach.

“It is the same Larissa,” said partner Talita Rocha as she and her “new” partner scored a 2-0 (21-10 and 21-17) over 12th-seeded Lauren Fendrick and Brooke Sweat of the United States in 32 minutes in one of the four opening pool play matches here Wednesday in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.

“I feel really comfortable playing with her,” said Talita, who split with her former partner Taiana Lima after the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event in Berlin last month to join forces with Larissa.  We played very well in our match against the Americans and had very few mistakes.”

Competing in her first FIVB event since September 1, 2012 when she was playing with long-time partner Juliana Felisberta, the 32-year old Larissa said she “felt good” after her last competitive match on the Finnish island of Åland.

“No problems with my conditioning as I have been training hard the last three months,” said Larissa, who won the 2011 FIVB World championship with Juliana before claiming a bronze medal together at the London 2012 Olympic Games.  “I am more concerned about getting to know what makes Talita and me the best team on the beach.  Talita has been wonderful to train with the past two weeks, and today, we had a good start to our partnership.”

Larissa won seven FIVB World Tour championships with Juliana as the pair won a 587 matches together for an 84.6 winning percentage.  Larissa and Juliana are the FIVB World Tour record holder for most gold medal finishes for a men’s or women’s team with 45 titles.  The Larissa/Juliana partnership also collected 82 total FIVB World Tour medals in 108 international starts together over a nine-year period (2004-2012).

Talita is the sixth partner Larissa has had for FIVB events.  Larissa ranks second all-time to Kerri Walsh of the United States in world tour gold medal wins as the American has claimed 49 titles to top the women’s FIVB list.  Larissa won a 46th gold medal at the end of the 2008 season when Juliana was sidelined with a knee injury that forced her out of the Beijing Olympic Games.  Vivian Cunha was Larissa’s gold medal partner in Guarujá, Brazil.

Also playing in Pool E with two German teams, Larissa and Talita will play their second match Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. against the group’s top team - fifth-seeded Karla Borger and Britta Buthe.  The Germans placed second in last week’s Grand Slam event in Switzerland.  The Brazilians conclude pool play Thursday at 1:30 p.m. against 21st-seeded Julia Grossner and Chantal Laboureur.  Borger and Buthe defeated compatriots Grossner and Laboureur 2-0 (25-23 and 21-17) in another opening match Wednesday.

Both Larissa and Talita have won gold medals in The Hague as the FIVB World Tour returns to The Netherlands for the fifth-time.  Larissa and Juliana captured the Dutch gold medals in 2009 and 2011 at The Hague Beach Stadium.  Talita topped the podium twice with a gold medal in 2010 with Maria Antonelli and last June with Lima.  Talita and Antonelli, who lost the 2009 finale to Larissa and Juliana, also placed third in 2011.

Juliana and Lima are also competing in the Transavia Grand Slam.  As the sixth-seeded team in the event, Juliana and her partner Maria Antonelli defeated 11th-seeded Lima and Fernanda 2-1 (21-16, 21-23 and 27-25) in a 70-minute match.  Juliana and Maria finished fourth last week in Switzerland while Lima and Fernanda were ninth.

The 10th event on the women’s international circuit, Transavia Grand Slam concludes with the medal matches Sunday as the final two teams in both gender’s competition with be competing for the gold medals and a share of the $70,000 first-place prize for each winning team.  In addition to competition at The Hague Beach Stadium, men’s and women’s pool play matches are also being played in Amsterdam and Apeldoorn on Wednesday and Thursday.

Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event.  The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).

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