Holtwick & Semmler Seek Validation
The Hague, The Netherlands, July 19, 2014 - For the second-straight week, Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler will be playing for a FIVB World Tour gold medal as the Germans scored a three-set win over sixth-seeded Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta here Saturday in the first of two women’s semi-finals at the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam presented by Bas Van de Goor Foundation.
By winning the 62-minute match by a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21 and 17-15) score, the eighth-seeded Holtwick and Semmler will be seeking to validate their FIVB World Tour gold medal performance last week in Switzerland where they defeated compatriots Karla Borger and Britta Buthe in the first-ever All-German women’s finale since the start of the international circuit in 1992.
The Germans will be challenged by 11th-seeded Fernanda Alves and Taiana Lima of Brazil for the Transavia Grand Slam gold medal where the winning team will share the $70,000 first-place prize. In addition, Lima will be seeking her second-straight gold medal placement on The Hague Beach Stadium center court as she won the 2013 title with Talita Rocha as the pair finished last year as the FIVB World Tour’s top team.
As a “prelude” to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, the Transavia Grand Slam will also feature the women’s bronze medal match Sunday along with the men’s podium placement contests where teams from Brazil, Poland and the United States have reached the medal rounds.
Holtwick and Semmler are following a same story-line as last week as the Germans only won one of three pool play matches this week to advance as the third-place team from their group and were forced to win three-straight elimination matches to reach the semi-finals where they defeated Antonelli and Juliana to reach the Gstaad finale.
"We were always two or three points behind in the first set” said Semmler, “but we were able to change the tempo and were able to win the first set. In the third set we were also three points behind, but we again changed the tempo in the set. The Brazilian’s service game and defense was very good, but the important thing was that we won the match.”
With the Germans bidding to become the first tandem from their country to win back-to-back FIVB World Tour gold medals, Holtwick said her team “won surprisingly the Grand Slam in Gstaad. So we knew we had the chance to go to the finals again this week. We're both in a good shape and that really helps. This is a very exciting time for our partnership that we have been able to reach two-straight gold medal matches."
After helping her team to a 2-0 (21-14 and 21-11) win in 34 minutes over third-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic, the 29-year old Fernanda is assured of her first international medal in only her sixth FIVB World Tour event. A former indoor player in Brazil, Fernanda first appeared on the FIVB circuit by playing three events last season with Eliza Maia as the pair posted a fifth at an “open” stop in Anapa, Russia.
"It's wasn't easy, it is a very hard tournament,” said the 30-year old Lima. “Everybody is so strong. In our first tournament in Gstaad last week, we didn't come through the second round. We are a much stronger team now.”
Fernanda said “we did a great job, but it's always difficult. We did it in two sets, but it wasn't easy. Our relationship is very good and we gained a lot of confidence with each elimination win to reach the semi-finals. We get more confident when we're doing a good job together. We're getting better and better, day after day. We desire to get better, step by step. But the steps are going very fast, so that is good!"
To earn a spot in the “money” rounds of the 10th women’s event on the 2014 FIVB World Tour calendar, Fernanda and Lima had to play a qualifying match Tuesday where the Brazilians rallied from a first-set defeat and a 16-12 disadvantage in the second set to defeat the Nystrom twins (Emilia and Erika) of Finland 2-1 (27-29, 21-18 and 15-13) in a 58-minute qualifying match Tuesday.
Through the first 10 women’s events on the 2014 FIVB World Tour calendar, five women’s teams have now made the semi-finals after progressing to the main draw via the qualifying tournament. Fernanda and Lima become the third of those pairs to reach the title match as Antonelli and Juliana did it twice this season in China (Fuzhou) and Germany (Berlin).
Following this week’s event, the FIVB World Tour returns to the United States for the second-straight year as Long Beach in southern California hosts another $1-million event. The international circuit returns to Europe in August for stops in Austria (Klagenfurt, July 29-August 3) and Poland (Stare Jablonki, August 19-24).
Post-match semi-final quotes
Ilka Semmler, Germany - "We were always two or three point behind. But we were able to change the set. That was want won the first set. In the third set we were also three points behind, but we changed the set. Last week we won surprisingly the Grand Slam in Gstaad. So we knew we had the chance to go to the final."
Katrin Holtwick, Germany - “Their serve and defense was very well. But the important thing is we won the match. We're in good shape."
Maria Antonelli, Brazil - “They made one point more, and that's a world of a difference. Congratulations for them. Next time that point will go to us. It was a tough match and we want to win a lot. In our last time-out we said to each other: concentrate, concentrate to play good. Because this is our first world tour together seas together, I'm very happy with Juliana, I'm very happy with my new team and I'm learning a lot, more concentrated. You never finish to learn. My coach is the best. We didn't win already, because it's not our time. And we had to learn more to win the game and the tournament. We've had three second places. We need to learn more. Our time is coming."
Kristyna Kolocova, Czech Republic - "We didn't play very well. Everything we wanted to do, it didn't happen. In the beginning they scored four aces. It was 6-1, I think. It is difficult to come back. For now I'm not happy, but I'm glad we made it to the semifinal. It's a nice tournament with a nice venue."
Kolocova also added a comment about the airplane crash in Ukraine. "It was a disaster what happened with the airplane. We played with a black strip out of respect for the victims."
Taiana Lima, Brazil - "It's wasn't easy, it is a very hard tournament. Everybody is so strong. In Gstaad we didn't come through the second round, but now we're much stronger."
Fernanda Alves, Brazil - "I think we did a great job, but it's always difficult. We did it in two sets, but it wasn't easy. Our relationship is very good, our confidence came in the quarterfinal. We get more confident when we're doing a good job together. We're getting better and better, day after day. We desire to get better, step by step. But the steps are going very fast, so that good (ha-ha)!"