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USA captures women’s and men’s titles at inaugural ASICS World Series Cup

USA's Jennifer Kessy, left and April Ross celebrate Sunday after winning the women's ASICS World Series Cup held at the conclusion of the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam. USA's Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson won the men's title.

Long Beach, Calif., USA, July 28, 2013—With a new twist on an old sport, a special four-team international competition called the ASICS World Series Cup saw the United States defeat Brazil in the women’s final and the USA beat the Latvia in the men’s final Sunday.  With the week-long ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball featuring the week-long $440,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam that concluded Saturday, the inaugural $100,000 ASICS World Series Cup featured two teams from the USA in each gender playing in one semifinal along with one team each from Brazil and Germany in the other women’s semi and in the other men’s semi one each from Brazil and Latvia.

Winning the women’s ASICS World Series Cup was USA’s April Ross/Jennifer Kessy while capturing the men’s ASICS World Series Cup was USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson.

The winning teams in each gender will split a purse of $30,000, second place will split $10,000 and the other teams in the first-time event will each split $5,000.

The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returned to the USA for the first time since 2003 with the event being held for the first time in Long Beach the purpose-built site located on the expansive glistening sands of Marina Green Park. With the 2013 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS, in the record books, the special USA vs. the world ASICS World Series Cup was nationally televised by NBC TV and the Universal Sports Network.

In the women’s nationally-televised ASICS World Series Cup final, USA’s April Ross/Jennifer Kessy came from behind to overcome Brazil’s Taiana Lima/Talita Antunes, 15-21, 21-18 and 17-15 in the 60-minute final.  Brazil never trailed in taking the first set rather easily. In the second set, the USA fell behind again, 5-1 but scored six straight to take a 6-5 lead. The USA led 15-11 but Brazil rallied and tied the set at 16-16 but the USA scored five of the last seven points.

In the deciding third set of the women’s final, USA came out of the box to take leads of 4-1 and 7-4 but Brazil rallied again to take leads of 8-7, 11-9, 12-10 before the USA closed out the set and won the match with a 7-3 run. With the score tied at 15-15, Ross landed a cross-court kill off of Lima and Kessy ended it with a cross court kill just away from the diving Antunes, but just inside the sideline as the partisan packed house in Long Beach rose to their feet once again like they did so many times during the match.

In the women’s final, USA’s Kessy, who was selected as the MVP of the match, recorded 30 kills, 13 digs and had three aces while teammate Ross had 12 kills, seven digs, two blocks and just two hitting errors. For Brazil, Antunes had 11 kills, five blocks, two aces and no hitting errors and her partner Lima had 17 kills, 14 digs and two aces.

After winning the three-set match, USA’s Ross said, “We got off to a slow start, and that’s what I thought would happen. But then we got a couple of points and got better throughout the end of the first set. I felt way better going into the second set. I just served a bunch of aces, probably the most aces in a match this year. That helped us a lot to get going. I don’t know if it should, but this takes some of the sting out of losing the FIVB tournament. After a loss it feels so good to have this extra opportunity to go out on a win.”

In the men’s cup final, USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson finally broke open what appeared to be a very close match to defeat Latvia’s Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins in two sets, 22-20, 21-11 in 40 minutes. The match reversed the outcome of FIVB World Tour gold medal match on May 26 in Corrientes, Arg., won by the Latvians in two sets.

In the close first set, USA never trailed, there were four ties and Gibb finished it with another crowd-inspiring block. Latvia scored first in the second set and after going point for point USA took its first lead at 5-4 and then went on a 10-2 run. During the run, Gibb had three straight blocks for points at 13, 14, and 15 after having another block for point 11.

In the men’s final, USA’s Gibb, who was selected as the MVP of the match, recorded nine kills, a game-high seven blocks and one serving ace while teammate Patterson had 16 kills, seven digs, one block and one ace. For Latvia, Samoilovs had 10 kills and six digs while Smedins had eight kills, three digs and four blocks.

USA’s Gibb had high praise for his new teammate Patterson, saying after the victory, “Casey has been playing insane. He’s new to the FIVB World Tour and he is playing amazing. You also have to know that those guys (Latvia’s Samoilovs/Smedins) are some of the best players in the world. So I don't think they ever really lose confidence. We had a good game plan that our coach put together and it worked.”

USA’s Patterson had equally as strong comments regarding Gibb, saying, “Jake was playing the net so well today that there were times when I just wanted to serve, sit down in a chair and watch him just block another one.”

In the women’s semifinals held on Saturday, the international matchup saw Brazil’s Lima/Antunes defeated Germany’s Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 21-14, 21-16 in 34 minutes and in the all-American women’s semifinal, USA’s April Ross/Jennifer Kessy stopped compatriots Kerri Walsh Jennings/Whitney Pavlik, 18-21, 21-17, 16-14 in 61 minutes.

In the women’s portion of the $440,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, which concluded on Friday, Brazil’s Lima/Antunes won gold, Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler earned the bronze, USA’s Ross/Kessy finished ninth and USA’s Pavlik finished 25th playing with Annett Davis.

In the men’s international semifinal played first on a peaceful Sunday morning in Long Beach, with Brazil’s Pedro Salgado slowed by an ankle injury sustained in the second set, Latvia’s Aleksandra Samoilovs/Janis Smedins defeated Brazil’s FIVB World Tour season point leaders Salgado/Bruno Schmidt, 24-22, 21-14 in 44 minutes. The two teams, both with new partnerships this year, had previously met three times on the 2013 FIVB World Tour with each team winning once in three sets and then Brazil’s Salgado/Schmidt won the gold medal over Latvia’s Samoilovs/Smedins in the Hague, Netherlands.

In the all-American men’s second semifinal for the ASICS World Series Cup it was a rematch of the men’s semifinals of the $440,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam that concluded Saturday, USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson switched the results this time by beating compatriots and friendly rival Sean Rosenthal/Phil Dalhausser, 21-19, 21-17 in 41 minutes.

In the men’s portion of the $440,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, USA’s Rosenthal/Dalhausser won the gold medal while USA’s Gibb/Patterson finished fourth, Latvia’s Samoilovs/J. Smedins were fifth and Brazil’s Salgado/Schmidt were ninth.

The FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS was the showcase part of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a SoCal beach festival that included 4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music concerts. Also part of the event was the inaugural ASICS World Series Cup featuring two teams in each gender from the USA against two international teams. In addition to the international live FIVB telecasts, the event included 23 hours of live or same-day telecasts split between NBC Sports Network, Universal Sports Network and NBC TV Network.

After a week off next week, the 10-Grand Slam 2013 FIVB World Tour continues in two weeks in Germany at the $440,000 FIVB Berlin Grand Slam Aug. 6-11 and continues with the US$440,000 Moscow Grand Slam from Aug. 21-25. The season finale of the tour will be in Brazil in mid-October at the $440,000 FIVB Sao Paulo Grand Slam.


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