St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, June 21, 2015 — As a prelude of sorts for the anticipation of next week’s 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands, Brazil, the South American beach volleyball powerhouse swept the women’s podium Sunday during the final day of the double-gender $800,000 FIVB smart St. Petersburg Grand Slam presented by AVP.
Winning the gold medal was Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas while the silver medal went to Brazil’s Juliana Felisberta/Maria Antonelli and the bronze was won by Brazil’s Taiana Lima/Fernanda Alves. It was Brazil’s 22nd all-time women’s podium sweep, an FIVB record, and first since Nov. 1, 2014.
With the men’s portion finishing Saturday with USA’s Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson winning the gold medal the event was held on the purpose-built site at the popular Spa Beach Park at the Pier on Tampa Bay in St. Petersburg. Being played since last Tuesday, the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour returned from Europe for the first time in 2015 and visited the United States for the 12th time overall, the state of Florida for the third time and St. Petersburg for the first time. The gold medal matches for each gender were televised live international and on the NBC Network and Sunday’s women’s bronze medal aired on the NBC Sports Network and both gender’s semifinal matches were televised internationally as well.
Brazil is the most prolific country in FIVB Beach Volleyball. This was the 45th time Brazil advanced three women’s teams to the final four of an FIVB World Tour event and the 53rd time both players in a gold medal match were from Brazil. It was also the 205th time Brazil has had at least one team in the gold medal match and it was the 53rd time that Brazil had both women’s teams in the finals of an FIVB World Tour event.
After seven women’s events on the 2015 FIVB World Tour, the last five FIVB straight have won by three teams from Brazil. This was the second time this year Brazil has had three teams in the medal matches and first sweep this year of an FIVB podium.
ON TO NETHERLANDS
All four final four teams will now head to the Netherlands to compete in the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships starting Friday. Anchored in The Hague, pool play and three elimination rounds will also be held in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam through July 5. The bi-annual event features 48 teams in each gender and a purse of $1 million.
FIVB smart ST. PETERSBURG GRAND SLAM presented by AVP PURSE
The gold medal teams in the FIVB smart St. Petersburg Grand Slam presented by AVP will split $57,000, the silver $43,000, the bronze $32,000 and fourth place $24,000. The event is a special first of its kind cooperative partnership between the international Olympic organization and sanctioning body FIVB, USA Volleyball and USA sanctioning body AVP.
GOLD MEDAL RESULTS
In a rematch of last week’s all-Brazilian gold medal match in Stavanger, Norway, Brazil’s third-seeded Bednarczuk/Seixas reversed the result from last week by winning this time over Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana/Antonelli in two colorful sets, 23-21, 21-19 in the 61-minute internationally-televised gold medal finale.
In the first set, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas jumped out to an 8-3 lead but their compatriots fought back to tie it at 10-10. From there on out, Bednarczuk/Seixas could get a lead of more than two points but on the third set point they clinched the set. Juliana/Antonelli never led in the first set, but it was tied eight times.
Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas started out strong again in the second set at 4-1, forcing Juliana/Antonelli to call a time out. Juliana/Antonelli hung in there and tied the set at 12-12 following a 7-3 run. From the tied score, the teams had five ties and three lead changes. Juliana/Antonelli led at 19-18 but after a sideout, Seixas had back to back ace serves to seal the deal and win the match.
Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli never had a lead bigger than one point the entire match.
For the match, Brazil’s Bednarczuk had two ace serves, one block and seven kills and her teammate Barbara finished with four aces, 11 digs and 20 kills. For their compatriots, Juliana had one ace, two blocks, six digs and 23 kills and Antonelli had two aces, seven digs and four kills.
Finishing with a perfect 7-0 record in St. Petersburg, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas, now have a 26-4 record in five events this season. It was their 26th tournament as a team, and they have won three gold medals, two silver and three bronze. This was also the 81st overall FIVB event for Bednarczuk, and 46th overall event for Seixas.
The two talented Brazilian teams, who play often against each other on their own domestic tour, are now tied at 2-2 on the FIVB World Tour and three of the matchups were gold medal matches. Splitting the two previous meetings in the gold medal match with Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli winning last week in Stavanger, Norway and Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas winning in Puerto Vallarta in 2014.
Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli, leave Florida with a 6-1 record in the tournament and a 18-6 mark in four FIVB World Tour events in which they have played. This was their 18th tournament as a team and the defending FIVB World Tour point champions now have five silver medals as a team to go with two gold medals , and one bronze. For Juliana, it was her 130th career FIVB event with 47 gold medals while it was Antonelli’s 108th overall FIVB World Tour event and she has won 11 career FIVB gold medals
BRONZE MEDAL RESULTS
Advancing from the qualification tournament Brazil’s fifth-seeded Lima/Alves, who advanced from the qualification tournament all the way to the podium, thrilled the throng crammed into the smart Stadium Court at Spa Beach Park as they flamboyantly came back after losing the first set to finally overcome Germany’s 11th-seeded Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, 17-21, 21-19 and 17-15 in a crowd-pleasing XX-minute bronze medal match.
Brazil’s Lima/Alves, who won their first bronze medal in 10 FIVB World Tour events as a team, 7-1, came from qualifier to be the No. 5 main draw seed to help Brazil make some more FIVB beach volleyball history.
In the first meeting between the two teams, Brazil’s Lima/Alves started out slowly but regained their composure in the second set to finish with a two-point margin. In the even more exciting tiebreak third set, started quickly and built a three-point lead at 9-6 only to see the tenacious Germans climb back in with five unanswered point to lead 12-10. Brazil rallied to tie at 13, 14 and 15 before scoring the final two points to win. With the scored tied at 15-15, Lima served an ace and then ended the match with a cross court poke by the scrambling Germans following a spectacular multi-contact rally.
In the bronze medal match, Brazil’s Lima had 17 kills, 16 digs, one block and one ace serve while her teammate Alves had 22 kills, five blocks and one ace. For Germany, Borger had 12 kills, two aces and seven digs while her teammate Buthe contributed 22 kills, four blocks and one ace.
Germany’s Borger/Buthe finished the tournament with a 5-2 record and have played as a team for 48 events with two fourth place finishes to go along with four podium finishes.
In the first women’s semifinal of the day, Brazil’s third-seeded Bednarczuk/Seixas held court over Brazilian compatriots and fifth-seeded Lima/Alves, staying close, nearly going point-for-point and then pulling slightly ahead at the right time to win in two sets, 24-22 and 21-19 in 53 minutes.
In this match, Brazil’s Bednarczuk had two ace serves, three blocks and eight kills while teammate Seixas recorded 23 kills and 10 digs. For their opponents, Brazil’s Lima had one ace, 10 digs and 17 kills while Alves contributed one ace, nine kills and had five blocks. In their first FIVB World Tour meeting this year, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas are now 2-0 all-time against their compatriots.
Playing in the last semifinal match, Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana/Maria Antonelli made few errors and defeated Germany’s 11th-seeded Borger/Buthe in straight sets, 21-14, 21-17 in 53 minutes, the same length of the match as the first semifinal.
In the second semifinal, Brazil’s Juliana had five kills and four blocks while teammate Antonelli had one ace, 18 digs, three blocks and 19 kills. For Germany, Borger had one ace, eight digs and three kills while Buthe had 15 kills, two aces, and two blocked shots. Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli now have a 3-1 all time record in FIVB World Tour events over Germany’s Borger/Buthe, who won the silver medal at the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland.
In the first two quarterfinals Sunday morning at Spa Beach Park, Brazil’s third-seeded Bednarczuk/Seixas eliminated Switzerland’s 29th-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre, 21-16, 21-11 in 38 minutes. Brazil’s fifth-seeded Lima/Alves came from behind to defeat Italy’s fourth-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth, 18-21, 21-11 and 15-11 in 49 minutes.
Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas are now 2-0 all-time against Switzerland’s Forrer/Verge-Depre, who earned their second fifth-place finish in 37 all-time FIVB World Tour matches as a team. Brazil’s Lima/Alves are now 1-1 all-time against Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth duo, who now have three fifth place finishes to add to five final four finishes in 21 matches as a team on the FIVB World Tour.
In the first of the last two quarterfinals, Brazil’s second-seeded Juliana/Antonelli came back from a one-set deficit to fly past Spain’s ninth-seeded Liliana Fernandez/Elsa Baquerizo, 17-21, 23-21 and 15-10 in 61 minutes. In their first meeting this season, Brazil’s Juliana/Antonelli tandem is now 1-1 all-time against the Spain’s Fernandez/Baquerizo.
In the all-German quarterfinal, Germany’s 11th-seeded Borger/Buthe upset their compatriots in Germany’s seventh-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst in straight sets, 21-17, 21-16 in 44 minutes. Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst advanced to the quarterfinals by giving Brazil’s top-seeded Larissa Franca/Talita Antunes only their second loss of the year when they eliminated the Brazilians in three sets in a round of 16 on Saturday. Germany’s Borger/Buthe victory was their first against Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst after losing to them three times previously.
The quarterfinal losers will officially leave St. Petersburg with fifth place finishes and purses of $17,000 per team.
SHE SAID IT
Brazil’s Seixas said after her team’s gold medal victory, "Yea, we Brazilians we play against each other every time so we know each other a lot. Actually our team prefers to go to Juliana, but it depends on the team. Some teams can go to Maria. Some teams like to serve to me, some to Agatha, but that's the way the game works. But we are very happy, we know that it is always a tough match, and we need to keep focus on what we have to do in our game. So we are very happy, and I want to wish a very happy birthday to my partner because tomorrow is her birthday. We won the gold for her present! It is our first gold medal in a FIVB Grand Slam, so this is very good for us. And with the Olympic ranking, we have a big fight with the Brazilians about this, so for us this first place is very important as we can only have two teams in the Rio Olympics. We know the other Brazilian teams are very good, and we always are really close to each other. So with results like this it can maybe make a difference in the end in our desire to make the Olympics next year in our own country."
ON THE HORIZON
Following this week’s second of five FIVB Grand Slam tournaments on the 2015 FIVB calendar at the $800,000 FIVB smart St. Petersburg Grand Slam presented by AVP in the United States, the dynamic month of beach volleyball will conclude with the $1,000,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands (June 26-July 5) being anchored in The Hague with pool play and the first two rounds of single-elimination also being played in Amsterdam, Apeldoorn and Rotterdam.
MORE IN THE USA
Following this week’s event, the FIVB will return to the USA twice more in 2015 with the $800,000 FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam Aug. 18-23 in Southern California and the $500,000 Swatch FIVB World Tour Season Final in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Sept. 29-Oct. 4.
The FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam is the 320th men’s event since the FIVB began men’s competition in 1987 and the 284th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.