Gstaad, Switzerland, July 6, 2012—Starting the day with consistent rain drizzles that turned into a major rainstrom in the mid-afternoon, four productive women’s teams got down to serious business Friday, emerging from the fury of three elimination rounds on the Swiss sand and the encouragement of thousands of rain-soaked local fans that filled Gstaad stadium center court to advance to Saturday’s semifinals and medal matches at the double-gender $600,000 1to1 energy Grand Slam in Gstaad, Switzerland.
The 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour has continued in Gstaad as the world’s top tandems have returned to Switzerland as the double-gender event marks the 13th consecutive visit by the world tour with Gstaad hosting 11 men’s and 12 previous women’s events. Village Gstaad is nestled in a magnificent valley in Southwestern Switzerland at 3,440-feet (1,050 meters) above sea-level, the highest altitude a FIVB SWATCH World Tour stop is held annually.
QUARTERFINAL WINNERSBecause of Wednesday’s thunderstorm that came through the Gstaad valley, the elimination rounds didn’t start until Friday morning meaning to advance to the semifinals, some teams would have to play three rounds. Winning the exciting rain-soaked quarterfinal matches early Friday evening were Switzerland’s eighth-seeded Simone Kuhn/Nadine Zumkehr, Netherland’s fifth-seeded Sanne Keizer/Marleen Van Iersel, USA’s sixth-seeded Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh and Belgium’s 13th-seeded Katrien Gielen/Liesbeth Mouha.
GRAND GSTAAD GUARANTEESThe fifth of an FIVB-record eight grand slams on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour schedule, the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the gold medal teams in each gender will each split $43,500, the silver $29,500, the bronze $23,000 and fourth place $18,400. The women’s medal matches will be held Saturday and the men’s medal matches will be played on Sunday in the raucous Gstaad stadium center court. For more information on the 2012 FIVB Beach Volleyball SWATCH World Tour or the event, please visit www.fivb.org. For additional information on the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, please visit the event website at www.beachworldtour.ch.
SATURDAY SEMIFINAL SHOWDOWNSOn Saturday, with the women’s semifinals starting late morning and continuing through the medal matches in the late afternoon, the matchups for the women’s semifinals will have Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zummkehr vs. USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh and the other semifinal will pit Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha vs. Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel.
After its loss in the quarterfinals, this will mark the first time in the 13-year history of this event that Brazil will not have at least one team in the women’s final four.
QUARTERFINAL BREAK DOWNIn Friday’s quarterfinal matches where three of the four went to tie-breaker, Switzerland’s Kuhn/ Zumkehr came from behind to defeat Brazil’s surprising 31st-seeded country-quota survivors Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas; 19-21, 21-19 and 15-12 in 58 minutes; Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel came from behind as well to win another three-setter, beating China’s second-seeded Chen Xue/Xi Zhang, 14-21, 22-20 and 15-8 in 48 minutes.
In an all-American quarterfinal USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh battled back to eliminate USA’s fourth-seeded Jennifer Kessy/April Ross, 14-21, 21-16 and 15-9 in 47 minutes; and Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha overcame Slovak Republic’s 22nd-seeded Natalia Dubovcova/Dominika Nestarcova, 27-25, 21-11 in 38 minutes.
In the head-to-head series between the quarterfinal teams on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr met Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas for the first time, Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel improved to 2-3 against China’s Xue/Zhang, USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh now have a career FIVB edge over compatriots Kessy/Ross of 11-2 and Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha are now 2-0 against Slovak Republic’s Dubovcova/Nestarcova.
The losers of the quarterfinals all finish in fifth place and leave Switzerland with $13,200 in prize money per team.
THEY SAID ITAfter defeating the Chinese team for just the second time, an elated Keizer commented, “It was our first meeting with the Chinese this year on the sand so we didn’t know exactly what to expect. But we really had a perfect match for us and we showed our best performance against one of the greatest teams on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour. Of course, we playing poorly and were fortunate just to get out of our pool, we barely made it. So now, everything is possible for us in the final four.”
Winning another hard-fought three-set quarterfinal match, this one in front of thousands of home-country fans in the Gstaad stadium center court, Switzerland’s Zumkehr said after a rainy victory over Brazil, “This is a dream. We enjoy our home atmosphere with these fantastic spectators. Now I want to step onto the podium and win a cowbell”
Switzerland’s Kuhn said, “We started badly in the match and we turned it around in the second set. In the third set, we stayed cool and made the points. Now after this victory, we have an amazingly good feeling going into a semifinal in our own country in front of our own fans for the first time.”
Fighting through a tough all-American match that started with pouring rain and finished with sun breaking through the clouds to win in three sets, USA’s May-Treanor said after the match, “There was a rainbow at the end of the match following the big rainstorm after such a tough battle with Jen and April. That must have been a good sign for us, maybe there is a pot of gold hidden behind it for Kerri and me. We are now looking forward to playing against the hosts in the semifinals, this is what we want to help us improve.”
SEMIFINAL PREVIEWSPreviewing the semifinals, the first will see Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha meeting Netherlands Keizer/Van Iersel. In the second semifinal Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr will challenge USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh.
Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha, who are in their 17th career FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and have made their first final four, and Netherlands’ Keizer/Van Iersel, playing in their 43rd career tournament and 12th final four, have met only once when the Dutch girls won at this year’s CEV European championship.
Switzerland’s Kuhn/Zumkehr are in their 42nd FIVB SWATCH World Tour event together and third final four and first in Gstaad, and USA’s May-Treanor/Walsh, playing in their 76th world tour event with their 62nd final four appearance as a team, have met five times before with the USA winning all of them, the most recent on May 10 in the Beijing Grand Slam.
ROUND OF 16 UPSETSThe biggest upsets in the single-elimination round of 16 saw an all-Brazilian matchup where Bednarczuk/Seixas overcoming top-seeded defending champions Juliana Felisberta Silva/Larissa Franca in three sets, Italy’s third-seeded Greta Cicolari/Marta Menegatti losing to Belgium’s Gielen/Mouha in three sets and Germany’s seventh-seeded Sara Goller/Laura Ludwig losing in two sets to Netherland’s Keizer/Van Iersel.
In Friday’s round of 16, the losing teams received ninth place finishes and each team split $8,000 in prize money.
FIVB SWATCH WORLD TOUR CALENDARThe 2012 calendar features 13 women's and 13 men's events, including nine double-gender tournaments, within four of the five FIVB confederations in addition to the approaching 2012 London Olympic Games on July 28 to August 9 in a purpose-built 15,000 stadium on the grounds of the iconic Horse Guards Parde. The 2012 FIVB SWATCH World Tour is offering $6.32-million in prize money.
A new team on the FIVB SWATCH World Tour, Brazil’s Bednarczuk/Seixas had met the legendary Juliana/Larissa five times in domestic events and the record between the two teams now stands at 3-3.
ALL ABOARD FOR BERLINAfter the 1to1 energy Grand Slam, the 2012 FIVB Swatch World Tour continues with the next grand slam double-gender event July 10-15 in Berlin (Berlin Grand Slam). The total prize money for each Grand Slam event is $600,000.
LONG FIVB HISTORYThe 1to1 energy Grand Slam, is the 239th women’s event and 279th men’s event on the FIVB Beach Volleyball Swatch World Tour (open, grand slam, Olympic and Goodwill). The first men’s FIVB SWATCH World Tour event was played February 17-22, 1987 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the first women’s event was played August 14-16, 1992 at Almeria, Spain.