Brazilian Women Continue Strong Transavia Grand Slam Showing
The Hague, The Netherlands, July 18, 2014 - With only four of the top eight-seeded teams remaining in the women’s competition of the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation, Beach Volleyball power Brazil is in the position to claim three of the semi-final berths in this week’s FIVB World Tour event on Scheveningen beach.
The South American country is already assured of one when seventh-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas challenges sixth-seeded and Brazilian rival Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta in the second of four quarter-final matches Saturday with the winner advancing to the late afternoon semi-finals to determine one of the four entrants for Sunday’s gold medal match.
Other quarter-final matches early Saturday have eighth-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany playing ninth-seeded Fan Wang/Yuan Yue of China, third-seeded Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic facing the 16th-seeded Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara) of Brazil and 17th-seed Nadine Zumkehr/Joana Heidrich of Switzerland challenging 11th-seeded Taiana Lima/Fernanda Alves of Brazil.
If Brazil is successful in gaining three of the “final four” berths Saturday, it will mark the first-time this season and the 42nd-time since the start of the FIVB women’s Beach Volleyball competition in 1992 that the women from the South American country have accomplished the feat. With the Transavia Grand Slam being the 270th FIVB World Tour event for women, the Brazilians will be seeking a podium sweep for the 20th-time.
While the Brazilians were dominating play Friday with their only setback being a head-to-head meeting where Lima and Fernanda outlasted 28th-seeded compatriots Larissa Franca and Talita Rocha 2-1 (15-21, 21-15 and 19-21), the day’s top matches were upset wins when Holtwick and Semmler eliminated American Olympic medalists and second-seeded April Ross and Kerri Walsh and Zumkehr and Heidrich’s victory over 10th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Julia Sude of Germany.
After Ross and Walsh won the first set 21-13 over Holtwick and Semmler, the Germans rallied to win the next two sets 21-18 and 15-12 to post the win. Holtwick and Semmler, who won last week’s FIVB World Tour gold medal in Switzerland, entered Friday’s play after winning only one of three pool play matches this week, but rebounded to eliminate fifth-seeded compatriots Karla Borger and Britta Buthe Germany in two sets in a rematch of the Gstaad finale.
“A much better day for us,” said Semmler after the 50-minute match with Ross and Walsh Friday. “We finished pool play without any focus and did not play well in those matches. We did not want to be eliminated today so we played a lot harder. I played terrible in the first set against the Americans, but we were able to regain our focus in the last two sets. We also had some good breaks and were able to lead from the start of the third set against April and Kerri. We hope we can repeat our performance from last week in Gstaad.”
Holtwick and Semmler also lost their last two pool play matches in Gstaad last week before rebounding with five-straight wins to capture the gold medal in the first-ever women’s All-German finale where Borger and Buthe were beaten 2-0 (24-22 and 21-16) in 40 minutes. The Swiss win was Holtwick and Semmler’s second FIVB World Tour gold medal with the first being a September 2012 podium topper on the Finnish Isle of Åland.
Friday’s other exciting match also featured a German pair as 10th-seeded Laura Ludwig and Julia Sude dropped a 2-1 (19-21, 21-14 and 18-16) to Zumkehr and Heidrich in 52 minutes. The Swiss led 14-10 in the third set before Ludwig’s defense sparked a German rally to tie the match at 14-14. After staving off one match point, Zumkehr and Heidrich scored the last three points with one “let” serve and an errant German reception.
“I really started doubting myself at the end of the set,” said Zumkehr, who has advanced to a FIVB quarter-final with Heidrich for the second-straight week. “I missed several shots and had a receiving error on a serve to let the Germans back into the match. Laura was playing great defense and we just couldn’t come up with a play. Joana’s “let” serve was huge and we benefited from their reception error to win the match. Now, we need to win our match tomorrow against the Brazilians to advance to our first semi-final together.”
As a “prelude” to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, the final two days of the Transavia Grand Slam will be staged at the Scheveningen courts where the medal matches will be played Sunday. 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.
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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