Brazil to battle USA Sunday for Long Beach women’s gold
Sunday’s action on the final day at the stadium center court will start at 10 a.m. PT with the bronze medal matches followed by the gold medal matches for both genders. The event is being held for the second straight year in Long Beach, Calif. in the purpose-built site located on the sands of the Alamitos Beach adjacent to Marina Green Park on East Shoreline Drive. General admission is free to the event and VIP tickets are on sale through the event website at www.wsobv.com.
GOLD MEDAL PREVIEW
Following their semifinal victories, the stage has now been set for another memorable FIVB World Tour women’s gold medal match between the two winningest countries in FIVB history as the United States and Brazil will meet for the 90th time in a women’s FIVB World Tour gold medal match with the USA holding a 49-40 lead in the series between the two beach volleyball superpowers.
The women’s gold medal finale on the Long Beach center court will see USA’s top-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings attempting to hold off the consistent challenges from Brazil’s fifth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas.
Both teams are 6-0 entering Sunday’s gold medal match and both teams were extended to three sets in only one of their matches. The series history between the two teams is tied at 1-1 though all four players are FIVB World Tour veterans. Both meetings were this year with each team winning one match in two sets with the Brazilians winning the most recent meeting in May in Shanghai.
As a team, USA’s A. Ross/Walsh Jennings tandem is playing their 11th tournament as a team with five gold medals out of five final four appearances. Individually, three-time Olympic gold medalist Walsh Jennings has made 75 final four appearances with 49 FIVB gold medals and 15 silver in the 97 tournaments she has played in over the last 13 seasons. Olympic silver medalists (2012) A. Ross is in her ninth FIVB World Tour season with 42 final four appearances with 15 FIVB career gold medals and 12 silver in the 94 tournaments she has played.
As a team, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas duo is playing the 18th tournament as a team with one gold medal and two bronze medals in three final four appearances. Individually, Bednarczuk has made nine final four appearances with one gold and two silvers in the 73 tournaments she has played over eight seasons. Seixas has made seven final four appearances with one gold and one silver in the 38 tournaments she has played on the FIVB World Tour.
BRONZE MEDAL PREVIEW
As a prelude to the gold medal finale, Spain’s fourth-seeded Olympians Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo will meet Slovak Republic’s 14th-seeded Dominika Nestarcova/Natalia Dubovcova.
Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo is 5-2 in this tournament while Slovak Republic’s Nestarcova/Dubovcova are 5-1 and Spain leads the series history 2-0 with both previous meetings this year.
For Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo duo, this is their seventh final four appearance in 70 FIVB World Tour events as a team over the last eight years with three silver medals and one bronze.
Playing nearly all of their FIVB career together, Slovak Republic’s Nestarcova/Dubovcova are playing in their 41st FIVB World Tour event together and this is their second final four appearance with one bronze medal which they earned this season in Stavanger, Norway.
With an overflow center court crowd cheering every movement of the ball, the first women’s semifinal saw USA’s A. Ross/Walsh Jennings exerted tremendous athletic prowess in overcoming Slovak Republic’s Nestarcova/ Dubovcova in two sets, 21-14, 21-16 in 37 minutes.
In another dazzling display of speed, power and poise on the center court sand, Brazil’s fifth-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas toppled Spain’s fourth-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, 21-19, 21-16 in 39 minutes.
In the USA-Slovak Republic semifinal, the USA led from start to finish in the first set, leading at 8-6 they went on a 5-0 run. In the second, the USA trailed only twice at 2-3 and 3-4. USA’s April Ross had 11 kills, four digs and one ace serve while teammate Walsh Jennings recorded 13 kills, five digs and one block.
Enjoying the excitement of playing in her home country, USA’s Walsh Jennings commented, “I don't remember the game at all, but I remember the feeling of the game and it felt like we were in control. I felt like we were in the driver's seat. We had a game plan. We executed it against them. More importantly, with us, with our handling of the ball I think we executed better than we have in a while. The game felt very simple. It felt very clean. Even when we were scrambling, we felt in rhythm and that's something that we are working so hard for. We need to keep it up for tomorrow.”
"I don't think we were struggling with ourselves yesterday. I think we ran up against a really dang-good team that was really determined. That challenged us and made us uncomfortable."
USA’s A. Ross remarked afterwards, "I thought Kerri played amazing defense. That's one of the few matches that we've played in playoffs where we split-blocked the whole time. She had a great read on them. We scored points because of it. That was the key to our win. For various reasons I love continuing on with the tournament because I want to win the tournament. We also get to improve each match and learn from each previous match. I think we've done that the best we have this season so far at this tournament. In large part our play here is a reflection thanks to our coach Marcio Sicoli."
Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas repeatedly held off the attacks and charges of Spain’s determined Fernandez/Baquerizo in the first set and then gradually wore down their Spanish foes in the second set to secure their spot in the gold medal match.
Brazil’s Seixas commented after her team’s victory, “The game was very tough. The Spanish girls played very well. I think we needed just to serve better. I think our serve was a little bit slow. We had to find a way to make them uncomfortable so I think we risked some serves and it worked. Our side out was very consistent. I think the gold medal match tomorrow will be awesome. The crowd here is amazing, they’re always cheering for a good match. We know that Kerri and April are very motivated because they are at home, so we’ll have to play with pleasure and enjoy it.”
Getting things started in rousing fashion Saturday morning in the four women’s quarterfinal matches, each won in two sets, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas eliminated Germany’s third-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler, 21-11, 21-13 in 32 minutes and Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo eliminated USA’s 13th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Seat, 21-16, 21-19 in 38 minutes in the first two matches.
In the final two quarterfinal matches, Slovak Republic’s 14th-seeded Dominika Nestarcova/Natalia Dubovcova defeated Australia’s 11th-seeded Taliqua Clancy/Louise Bawden, 21-15, 21-18 in 34 minutes and pleasing the near-capacity center court home-country crowd USA’s top-seeded April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings dispatched Netherlands’ eighth-seeded Marleen Van Iersel/Madelein Meppelink, 21-16, 21-16 in 38 minutes.
The losers in the quarterfinals were eliminated and leave Long Beach with official ninth-place finishes and purses of $14,000 per team.