Double Brazilian triumph as home pair claim comeback gold
The pair added another gold medal to the Brazilian collection after Maria Antonelli and Talita Da Rocha Antunes claimed the women's title on Saturday, and were quick to thank the Campinas crowd for the crucial part they played in the victory.
"We didn't start well," Alison said. "But with the energy of the fans, we found the strength to react. I am very happy we responded to the support in all our games, it was so important for us."
It was another tough come-from-behind battle for Alison-Emanuel, who also needed comeback wins in both their final pool match against Latvia to get into the final four and in their semi-final against Germany on Saturday.
The USA started the match well, serving more consistently to unsettle the rhythm of the home pair and claimed the opening set 21-13. "They made a lot of errors in the first set," Patterson said. "We served real well and got them out of their system, so they had to make harder plays."
The home team's serving improved and Emanuel became more influential as the play developed, and Brazil levelled the match by taking a close second set 21-19, thanks to a huge play from Alison with the scores tied at 19-19. "I hit it [ball] right at his face," said Patterson. "And he dug it with his hand perfectly, real easy. I think that's what won them the match. That's why he's one of the best blockers in the world."
The tie-break was even up until 10-10, then Gibb made a couple of mistakes and Brazil pulled away for a 15-11 victory, but Gibb was full of praise for his experienced rival. "I made two big mistakes and that's what cost us the match," he said. "Emanuel went for more shots, and was really crisp. He was definitely in a rhythm, you can see why he is who he is, he's amazing."
Despite the close matches, Emanuel was happy with Brazilian pair's tournament performances in what has been an injury-disrupted year so far. He was also happy to add gold from a new competition to his impressive collection, but he was particularly grateful that the home event allowed his young son Lukas to watch him compete. "I'm very happy because my family came here with me and it was one of the few times that my son has seen me play."
Alongside their title as Continental Cup champions and their gold medals, Alison-Emanuel received $50,000 prize money, while Gibb-Patterson received $35,000 to go with their silver medals.