Xiamen, China, September 27, 2015 - Switzerland's Joana Heidrich/Nadine Zumkehr captured their first FIVB World Tour gold medal as a pair on Sunday after beating Argentinean dark horses Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug 2-0 (21-18, 21-17) in the final of the Xiamen Open.
After an incredible tournament in Xiamen, the 7th seeded Heidrich/Zumkehr left the final with an absolute clean sheet, winning all of their seven matches including an upset victory over Chinese top seeds Wang Fan/Yue Yuan.
Heidrich/Zumkehr caught Argentina off guard at the start of the final, but then the first set evened out. The pressure of a gold medal began to weigh as a number of service errors from both sides gave away the points, but Heidrich presence at the net and Zumkehr solid digs swung the score in Switzerland's favour.
Switzerland jumped out to a 7-2 lead in the second set. But just as everybody thought Heidrich/Zumkehr would close it out quickly, the Argentineans showed their determination and grit that took them this far to the final leveling at 8-8 with some truly great rallies. With Heidrich blocking and spiking consistently at the net, the Swiss pair managed to stay calm and then pulled slightly ahead. At 20-17 up, an ace serve from Heidrich secured the gold on their first match point.
"It's my first time. It's not easy to go this far, because you want to win for sure, but you are a little bit nervous because it's your first. I think we did a really good job. This Argentine team was fighting every ball. It's hard and a really tough game. I'm happy that we won this," said Heidrich.
"We knew that this is a very emotionl team, a team very hard to play. We also knew that it's their first final. So with my final experience on center court, we managed to stay calm. It's our last tournament of this season. It's just fun playing out there. That's what we wanted to do, and, I think, that's what we did. We're really happy to take the gold back home," said Zumkehr, who had won twice on the FIVB World Tour in previous partnership with Simone Kuhn.
Gallay/Klug's silver medal is the first ever FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour medal won by Argentinean female players.
"We're really happy because we are on the podium with the sivler medal. Of course, a little bit disappointed about the final, because we wanted the gold medal. But we did really good so far, and got to the final for the first time in our life. We are enjoying it now. We're really proud of our team," said Klug.
To reach their first FIVB World Tour event final, Gallay/Klug had accomplished the daunting task of beating world championship semifinalists Katrin Holtwick/Iika Semmler in the semifinal. They displayed a spirited performance en route to a 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) win in the morning.
"It's a spectacular match. We played a great team, the 14th in the world. We never played them before. We knew they came here to play the final. So we went out with our whole hearts to be there. We fought every ball to be in the final. We deserved it," said Gallay.
"I think we played really good sideout. We knew what to do in defence. But, I think, the biggest difference was the attitude. We tried to win every ball and fought a lot. So we really deserve it," she added.
The bronze medal match saw Forrer/Vergé-Dépré up against Holtwick/Semmler. The Swiss pair were clearly more ready and huge hits by Holtwick along with a number of errors from Germany helped Forrer/Vergé-Dépré surge ahead in the first set before taking it 21-14. Forrer/Vergé-Dépré started out strong again in the second set before the Germans fought hard to tie at 16-16. The two teams then traded points until a Anouk Vergé-Dépré block ended the set 24-22.
"After we lost the smeifinal, that's really hard to get energy again. But I think we did a really good job, concentrating on the next game. They (Germany) are a good team. We knew we had to go fully to do it. The first set was quite easy as we thought. In the second when we were leading 14-11, the tension was going down a little bit, so we had to push again, push until the end. We did a great job today," said Vergé-Dépré.
Zumkehr/Heidrich beat Forrer/Vergé-Dépré 2-0 (21-16, 21-15) in the other semifinal before advancing to the gold medal match.
The double-gender $150,000 FIVB Xiamen Open is the final point's event on the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball calendar. The event is held at the Guanyinshan Gold Beach in the Siming District of the Fujian Province. The winning teams in each gender will share the $11,000 first-place prize.