Gstaad, Switzerland, July 11, 2015 - It will be the fourth-straight All-Brazilian finale on the women’s 2015 FIVB World Tour as Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca won a semi-final match over Canada on the sand and Fernanda Alves and Taiana Lima signed a score sheet for their forfeit victory from an American pair here Saturday in the US$800,000 Gstaad Major.
Top-seeded Talita and Larissa scored a 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) in 35 minutes over ninth-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan for the Brazilians third-straight win over the Canadians on the FIVB World Tour. After losing a pool play match at the end of May to Bansley and Pavan in Russia, Talita and Larissa scored two wins last month at the first SWATCH Major Series event in Croatia highlighted by a gold medal victory over the Canadians in Porec.
The fourth-seeded Fernanda and Lima advanced to their second-straight FIVB World Tour gold medal match this season by gaining a forfeit win over seventh-seeded April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States. Walsh Jennings was not able to play Saturday due to injuring her right shoulder again in the second set of a quarter-final against Brazilian world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas.
“I am feeling okay, but did not what to risk any further injury to my right shoulder,” said the 36-year old Walsh Jennings, the three-time Olympic and world champion with Misty May-Treanor. “I hope to be back playing again for the event in Long Beach (August 18-23). Once I return home in southern California, it is more rehab and getting ready to play again Long Beach.”
Walsh Jennings completed the match with Ross as the Americans posted a 2-0 (21-17, 23-21) win in a 48-minute match over the second-seeded Agatha and Barbara, who were seeking their fourth gold medal this season on the FIVB World Tour after topping the podium in the Czech Republic in May and the United States in June before being crowned world champions last Saturday in The Hague.
In playing for the $57,000 first-place prize Saturday, the two Brazilian teams will be meeting for the second-time on the FIVB World Tour. Fernanda and Lima won the only match last July at the Dutch Grand Slam in The Hague 2-1 (21-15, 15-21, 21-19) in 52 minutes. The event was Talita and Larissa’s first-ever tournament together on the international circuit.
Prior to that meeting, Talita had teamed with Lima for 17 FIVB World Tour events where the pair won five gold medals, placed on the podium eight times, reached nine “final four” and captured the 2013 international circuit champions. Lima and Fernanda’s first world tour event together was in Gstaad last July where the Brazilians placed ninth after losing to compatriots Agatha and Barbara in an elimination match.
Both Talita and Larissa have topped the podium on the Swiss Alps village center court. Talita and Maria Antonelli defeated Larissa and Juliana for the 2009 Gstaad title. Larissa and Juliana won the Swiss gold medals in 2005, 2010 and 2011. The pair also placed third in 2007 at the world championships in Gstaad and second in 2009 after missing the 2008 due to Juliana’s injured knee in a previous tournament in Paris that forced her to withdraw from the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
With the Gstaad Major being the 286th women’s FIVB World Tour event, Brazil will now have a team in a gold medal match for the 207th-time with Saturday’s finale being the 55th featuring two teams from the South American country. Overall, Brazil is guaranteed its 144th women’s gold medal on the international circuit while increasing their medal count to 380.
With Bansley and Pavan netting the bronze medal via the forfeit by Ross and Walsh Jennings, it will be the pairs’ third this season after placing second to Brazilian tandems in Prague (Agatha/Barbara gold medal winners) and Porec (Talita/Larissa). Prior to the 2015 FIVB season, a Canadian women’s team had never placed on the podium in a world tour event.
Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas, who lost Bansley and Pavan Friday in an elimination match to place ninth this week, netted the first two Canadian women’s medals by topping the podium in the 2015 in China (Fuzhou) and placed third in the next event in Lucerne, Switzerland. Broder and Valjas also placed fourth in Porec where the Canadians lost to Talita and Larissa in the semi-finals.
Following the Gstaad Major where play concludes Sunday with the men’s medal matches, the FIVB World Tour takes a week off before resuming in the inaugural Yokohama Grand Slam July 21-26. It will mark the first-time that both men and women have competed together in Japan in a FIVB World Tour event. Seven FIVB men’s only events were held in Japan from 1989-1995, including a 1991 on stop in Yokohama. A total of 14 women’s only events were held in Osaka from 1994-2005 and in 2008 and 2009.