Third time a charm as Ross and Walsh claim gold at Stavanger Grand Slam
The US pair beat the Spaniards 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) to add Stavanger gold to their wins at the Fuzhou Open and Moscow Grand Slam from earlier in the year.
“The way my heart has been racing all day and the way we battled all week it is such a culmination of our hard through work through the ups and downs,” Walsh said. “We played steady; we played with fire and a lot of heart.”
The pair have only been together since the 2013 Gstaad Grand Slam, but since then they have now claimed World Tour gold at five tournaments.
For Ross her latest win in Norway’s south-west is her fourth and will sit alongside her and Jennifer Kessy’s success at the 2009 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the 2011 Stavanger Grand Slam, the last time the event took place.
“I love this place, I think I would love it regardless,” Ross said. “The atmosphere is amazing the fans are great and so into it and the weather is beautiful.
“We played great, it isn’t the place we just played great together.”
Fernandez and Baquerizo were playing in their first ever Grand Slam final, but like the two Open finals they had played in it ended in defeat.
Nonetheless it is another step in the career of a pair who are fast establishing themselves among the leading sides in women’s beach volleyball.
“It was very exciting to be in the final,” Baquerizo said. “They played a very good match and I think the defended really well and they got a lot of my side outs. I think they were superior in this match, and they did a good job.
“We want to keep earning good results and our goal is to be in the semifinals as much as possible. So this is great. You have to be in the final to win the gold medal, so we hope we have another chance, many more.”
Slovakians make history with maiden bronze medals
Natalia Dubovcova and Dominika Nestarcova made history when they became the first Slovakian team to win a World Tour medal when they claimed the bronze.
In a three-set thriller they held their nerve in the third set to beat the Netherlands’ Marleen van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink 2-1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-12).
“In the second set I didn’t feel very good, but we kept working and started to win points,” Dubovcova said. “It is the first medal for Slovakia, so it feels amazing.”
Before Stavanger the furthest the pair had ever reached were quarterfinal finishes at the 2012 Gstaad Grand Slam and 2013 Rome Grand Slam.
“We are very happy because we’ve never reached a semi before and now we’ve got a bronze,” Nestarcova added. “I think we believed we could do it, so we are very happy.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stavanger Grand Slam runs from Wednesday, June 25 until Sunday June 29. It is the eighth event and the fourth Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features nine Grand Slams and 11 Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Gstaad Grand Slam which runs from July 9-13.