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Brazilians Fernanda & Lima Top Transavia Grand Slam Podium

Fernanda Alves (left) and Taiana Lima of Brazil capture the gold medal Sunday at the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam at The Hague Beach Stadium.

The Hague, The Netherlands, July 20, 2014 - It has been another successful Beach Volleyball event in The Netherlands for Taiana Lima as she returned to the European country with new partner Fernanda Alves to lead Brazil to their fifth-straight women’s gold medal in as many FIVB World Tour events on Scheveningen beach.

With a 2-1 (21-16, 16-21 and 15-12) win in 55 minutes over eighth-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany here Sunday, the 11th-seeded Brazilians captured the gold medal in the US$1-million Transavia Grand Slam in only their second FIVB World Tour event together.  The Dutch stop was also the 29-year old Fernanda’s sixth event on the international circuit while her 30-year old partner is nearing the century mark for FIVB participations.

Lima captured the 2013 FIVB World Tour stop in The Hague with Talita Rocha as the pair won five gold medals last season enroute to capturing the world tour’s season championship.  After an international stop last month in Berlin, Talita decided to switch partners and played this week with legendary Brazilian Larissa Franca as the pair placed ninth this week.

Lima picked up Fernanda for last week’s FIVB event in Switzerland where the pair finished ninth.  This week, Lima and Fernanda had to survive an upset bid by a veteran team from Finland Tuesday to earn a spot in the Transavia Grand Slam “money” rounds where they finished second on their pool after losing a 70-minute three-setter to Antonelli and Juliana in group play.

“We have played nine matches this week,” said Fernanda, “so we are tired, but so happy.  I’m going to sleep all day tomorrow!  “Lima said one thing during the game - ‘whatever happens, we are together.’  The energy is good and we do our best.  Everything is new for me. I played 10 years professional indoor and then the CBV (Confederação Brasileira de Voleibol) asked me to play on the beach.  I did it because I really liked the challenge.  And I really don’t regret it, not a bit!”

With Fernanda collecting her biggest payday in her brief career, the Brazilians shared the $72,000 first-place prize while the Germans left Scheveningen beach by splitting $50,000 for second-place.  In a match played earlier Sunday, sixth-seeded Maria Antonelli and Juliana Felisberta of Brazil captured the bronze medal and split $40,000 with a 2-0 (21-13 and 21-14) in 35 minutes over the third-seeded Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic.

After the teams split the first two sets, Fernanda and Lima soared to a 7-4 lead in the third and deciding set before the Germans tied it at 7-7.  Brazil scored four of the next five points to move ahead 11-8 and Holtwick and Semmler could not get any closer.

Holtwick and Semmler were 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 difference between the teams were close,” said the 28-year old Semmler.  “I think they were two plays better than us.  We also had good chances to make blocking defense.  At the end, the Brazilians served well and we didn't have the chance to put 100 percent in every serve that they made.  They played good defense and made all the points.  We fought hard and we had the chance in the third set to come back.  The silver medal is nice, but after the game, it is also tough because you lost.”

Sunday’s finale was the 12th all-time meeting for the Brazilian and German pairs in a FIVB World Tour gold medal match with the South American country holding a commanding 11-1 advantage.  Overall, Brazilian women have now won 132 of the 270 women’s events on the international circuit.  Germany has five gold medal finishes since the start of the women’s FIVB World Tour in 1992 with Sunday’s gold medal match being No. 28 for the Europeans and 243 for the Brazilians.

With the conclusion of the “prelude” event to the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships when The Netherlands hosts the prestigious event at four sites in the European country, 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).


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