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Swiss Strong, Brazilians Better

Talita Antunes (left) hits against Joana Heidrich of Switzerland in Sunday's Rio 2016 Olympic quarter-finals match won by Brazil in three sets.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 14, 2016 – Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr registered the strongest performance in the history of Swiss women’s Beach Volleyball in the Olympics, but Brazilians Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca were two points better in the end in a “classic” match here late Sunday afternoon at the Rio 2016 “Summer” Games.

Talita and Larissa, the top-seeded team in the competition and heavily-favored to win the Rio Olympic gold medal, fought off three match points in the second set and rallied to post a 2-1 (21-23, 27-25, 15-13) win in 70 minutes over the 17th-seeded Heidrich and Zumkehr.

KEY PLAY - With the Brazilians on the "brink of elimination" by Heidrich and Zumkehr with the Swiss leading 22-21 and serving to win the match, two sensational digs by Larissa and a rally-ending attack by Talita tied the second set.  Larissa, the FIVB Best Defensive Player three times (2009, 2012, 2014), had 19 digs in the match.

Larissa Franca with one of her many digs on the FIVB World Tour

The win was the fourth-straight triumph for the Brazilians over the Swiss internationally with Talita and Larissa posting the last two victories over Heidrich and Zumkehr on Copacabana with a March 9 victory over the Swiss at the Rio Grand Slam stop on the FIVB World Tour.

With the victory, Talita and Larissa now play FIVB World Tour leaders Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in the Rio 2016 Olympic semi-final Tuesday.  The Germans hold a 3-1 edge in the international series with Ludwig and Walkenhorst winning the last meeting with a 2-1 (21-18, 15-21, 15-10) gold medal victory June 18 at the Olsztyn Grand Slam in Poland.

In the longest of the 48 women’s matches played to date in the Rio Olympics, the contest was tied a total of 27 times with 11 lead changes with the Swiss having three match points in the second set.  In the deciding set where it was tied five times with three lead changes, the Brazilians broke from a 9-9 deadlock to take a 12-9 lead and won it on the second match point via a successful attack by Talita.

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