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Women’s final four field set at Corrientes Grand Slam

Netherland's Sophie van Gestel, left, jousts at the net with Germany's Britta Buthe during the quarterfinal won by van Gestal and Madelein Meppelink over Buthe and Karla Borger to advance to semis of the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam.

Corrientes, Argentina, May 25, 2013—Enjoying the warming sunshine, the player-friendly sand and the gracious fans that helped them elevate their game even more, the women’s quarterfinals have set the stage for the semifinals and medal matches of the $440,000 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam double-gender tournament.  Following their quarterfinal victories Saturday morning, making up the final four will be two teams from Brazil along with one each from the Netherlands and the United States.

The women’s portion of Round 2 of the 10-event 2013 FIVB World Tour concludes Saturday with the internationally-televised women’s semifinals and medal matches later today. Men’s final matches will be played on Sunday. With the event being held for the first time in Corrientes, the purpose-built site is located on the sands of Arazati Beach – Costanera Sur. The lighted stadium court has been built to seat 7,500 spectators. The men’s semifinals and medal matches close the tournament on Sunday. The men’s semifinals and medal matches will start at 2:30 p.m. local time on Sunday for the men’s final four matches.

The lineups for Saturday afternoon’s semifinals, which begin at 3 p.m. local time, will see Brazilian sisters Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado meeting Netherlands’ Madelein Meppelink/Sophie van Gestal in the first semifinal followed by Brazil’s Maria Antonelli/Agatha Bednarczuk, meeting USA’s Jennifer Kessy/April Ross.

In the semifinal matchups are experienced players with three of the teams being together for some time and the fourth, Brazil’s Antonelli/Bednarczuk competing on the FIVB World Tour together for the first time. As a team, the Salgados have played 105 tournaments together, Netherlands Meppelink/van Gestal are in their 16th, Brazil’s Antonelli/Bednarczuk are playing their third and Kessy/Ross are playing in their 74th as a team.

While Brazil’s Antonelli/Bednarczuk have not faced each other before, Brazil’s Salgado sisters and Netherlands’ Meppelink/van Gestel met for the first time in the bronze medal match three weeks ago in Shanghai won by the Dutch women.

Five of the eight players are Olympians as USA’s Kessy/Ross won the silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic games, Meppelink/van Gestal finished fifth in London and Antonelli, teamed with Talita Antunes, also finished fifth in London. For these final four teams, this is the 15th final four for the Salgado sisters, fourth for Netherlands’ Meppelink/van Gestel, first for Antonelli/Bednarczuk and 34th final four for USA’s Kessy/Ross, the 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships

To earn the place in the final four with three of the four quarterfinals lasting three sets, Netherland’s Meppelink/van Gestal defeated Germany’s Karla Borger/Britta Buthe in straight sets, 21-13, 21-19 in 34 minutes while their semifinal opponent Brazil’s Salgado sisters advanced by working three sets to defeat Germany’s surprising Julia Grossner/Victoria Bieneck, 19-21, 21-11, 15-4 in 47 minutes.

To advance to their second semifinal matchup, Brazil’s Antonelli/Bednarczuk upset the Germany’s veteran duo Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 22-24, 21-19, 16-14 in 55 minutes while their next opponent, USA’s Kessy/Ross had their hands full as well before pulling out another three-set victory, this one over Spain’s Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, 21-13, 11-21, 15-12 in 52 minutes.

“This was a very, very tough match for us, the Germans are so experienced, so good and we are a new team so winning the match is amazing for us,” said Antonelli after she and Bednarczuk pulled out their three-set victory with two sets going to overtime. “We are really started to play well and its great to make the final four in just our third FIVB international event together. Now we want a medal.”

While all the teams in the women’s quarters have FIVB World Tour experience because of partner switches only two of the matches had teams who had played before.  Netherlands Meppelink/van Gestal are now 3-0 overall in head-to-head matchups against Germany’s Borger/Buthe and USA’s Kessy/Ross have the same 3-0 margin over Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo although Spain has taken the Americans to three sets the last two times they have met.

With their quarterfinal losses Germany’s Borger/Buthe, Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo, Germany’s Grossner/Bieneck and Germany’s Holtwilck/Semmler will all leave Argentina with official fifth-place finishes in the 2013 FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam.

USA’s Kessy/Ross, the 2012 Olympic silver medalists, continued their powerful tournament start in winning their pool with wins over teams from Argentina, Canada and Kazhkstan and the Czech Republic Friday before Saturday’s quarterfinal victory to put them at 5-0 for the tournament so far.

The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam will each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place $12,900. The women’s medal matches will be held on Saturday and the men’s medal matches on Sunday. The FIVB Corrientes Grand Slam is the 286th FIVB men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1989 and the 248th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.


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