Yokohama, Japan, July 24, 2015 – Brazil’s Larissa Franca Maestrini/Talita Da Rocha Antunes from Brazil keep on the right track at the 2015 FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam, winning their pool with three straight set wins. The double gender $800,000 FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam marks the first time both men and women have competed together in a FIVB World Tour event in Japan.
Larissa/Talita beat USA’s April Ross/Jennifer Fopma in their final Pool C match, 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) and are yet to drop a set in Yokohama. The win earns the Larissa/Talita a ticket directly into round two of the knock-out phase where they join fellow Brazilians Agatha/Barbara and Juliana/Antonelli.
Larissa/Talita won the tournament immediately prior to Yokohama, the Gstaad Major Series and have also won the Prorec Major Series and Moscow Grand Slam this year. Brazil met USA’s April Ross who teamed up with Jennifer Fopma for Yokohama, as partner since 2014 Kerri Walsh, is currently out with injury sustained at the Gstaad Major Series.
USA pulled out some strong serving and well appointed balls, but Larissa/Talita’s huge hits and ball recovery took the match for Brazil.
“We feel good, we always think match by match and now we have won our pool so the first has been done and now we have to think about the next one.
“It’s always hard. April is not with her partner and even though she is with Fopma, they are good players and they improved. I think we played better today than in our other matches. Larissa played so well and that was the most important.
“We are getting better and better, that’s good for us. We are a new team, we played together for over a year so every match we can find something new,” said Talita.
Top seeded Larissa/Talita will now face Wang/Yue from China in round two. USA’s Ross/Fopma also proceed to the second round knock-outs in Yokohama after defeating Day/Kessy (USA) 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).Bansley/Pavan top Pool F
Canada’s Heather Bansley/Sarah Pavan are aiming for another podium finish in Yokohama after taking home three FIVB medals this year, two silver and one bronze and their pool win means they have one less match to worry about. In their final pool match they were met with the powerful German pair, Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst.
The two teams met on centre court in the heat of the day and Germany demonstrated great play at the net, taking the first set as Bansley/Pavan kicked in to catch up. Canada appeared more composed in the second with Pavan huge at the net and Bansley rallying the court for useful attacks, making up the deficit 2-1 (18-21, 21-16, 15-8).
“We are so happy we won that one. This heat is killer and we knew that it would be a battle between who could withstand it the longest and I think that’s what it came down to in the end. It was hard, they’re a really good team,” said Pavan.
“We knew that is was going to be a tough match against Kira and Laura today and last time we played them it went to three and in the heat, it just kind of adds to it. It was definitely an endurance match today and I think that we were able to manage the heat and humidity a little bit better,” said Bansley.
“We had a tough pool, Finland has had a couple of really good tournaments in a row, Day and Kessy are a very good team, we knew that it would be a really tough task to come out on top, but we’re really satisfied that we’re able to do that. Today we knew it would be a battle but at the end Heather was just picking up all their shots and you could tell they were getting frustrated because she had a really good read on them and we’re glad that we have a break this afternoon,” said Pavan.
Bansley/Pavan meet fellow Canadians Valjas/Broder on July 25 to fight for a place in the quarterfinal, while Ludwig/Walkenhorst also proceed after beating Germany’s Laboureur/Sude 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) in round one.
This year’s FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam will be the third of five double-gender FIVB Grand Slams, each with a total purse of $800,000, on the FIVB World Tour 2015. Seven FIVB men’s only events were held in Japan from 1989-1995 with six being held in Enoshima and one in Yokohama in 1991. A total of 14 women’s only events were held in Osaka from 1994-2005 and in 2008 and 2009.
Japan has hosted a total of 21 FIVB World Tour events (seven men, 14 women) with the United States leading the medal count for men and Brazil dominating the medal tally for women.
Following the Yokohama Grand Slam the 2015 FIVB World Tour will have a three-week break before resuming in the United States with the double-gender FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam in Southern California set for August 18-23.