August 23, 2014 – Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes completed their run from the qualifying rounds to top of the podium when they defeated Laura Ludwig and Julia Sude in the women’s Stare Jablonki gold medal match on Saturday.
The Brazilians beat the German duo 2-1 (21-14, 19-21, 16-14).
Larissa and Talita appeared set for a straight forward win after comfortably winning the first set, but Ludwig and Sude fought back to claim the second and then saved two match points before the Brazilians prevailed.
“We had to calm down,” Talita said. “I think we had started making a lot of mistakes in the second and third set and had to stop making them.
“We just calmed ourselves down and just thought about the next ball.”
The gold is Larissa and Talita’s second in only four FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour tournaments together and their second in successive tournaments after they won gold at the Klagenfurt Grand Slam.
Neither player is a stranger to success though; Larissa won the 2011 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships, London 2012 bronze and seven World Tour titles alongside long-time partner Juliana Felisberta, while Talita won the 2013 World Tour title alongside Taiana Lima.
“It was not easy, “Talita said. “We had to put our heart into this match because it was so hard and Larissa helped me so much. She is playing so well right now and sometimes impossible to play against.”
Ludwig and Sude were playing in the first final together. The pair only teamed up after the Gstaad Grand Slam in July when Ludwig’s partner Kira Walkenhorst was forced to end her season early due to a shoulder injury.
It is Sude’s first World Tour medal and Ludwig’s third medal of the season after she and Walkenhorst won gold at the Shanghai Grand Slam and bronze at the Prague Open.
“We didn’t start the week well here and we had to go match by match,” Ludwig said. “But it is such fun to play here and the crowd really lifts you so we didn’t want to leave until the end.”
Bronze medal delight for Holtwick and Semmler
Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler wrapped up their fourth World Tour medals of the season when they defeated Taiana Lima and Fernanda Alves in the bronze medal match.
The German pair beat the Brazilian duo 2-0 (21-17, 21-6).
“I think we had a little bonus because we had the first semifinal and they had the second,” Holtwick said. “It is always a little tough when you have the second semifinal so it felt like a bonus to us and we used it to our advantage.”
Holtwick and Semmler now have a full set of medals for the season.
They won their first ever Grand Slam golds at the Gstaad Grand Slam in July and won silver at The Hague Grand Slam and the Prague Open, an improvement on their one silver and four bronze from 2013.
“Last year we had a pretty good season,” Semmler said. “It was the first one where we competed for medals and it is always tough to follow on in the next season.
“We weren’t worried, we felt we practiced well and had a good preparation. We didn’t start off so well and I’m not sure when we made the switch, but we played like we knew we could play and now it feels really good to be in this position again.”
The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stare Jablonki Grand Slam runs from Tuesday August 19 until Sunday August 24 when the men’s medal matches take place. It is the 13th event and the ninth Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features 10 Grand Slams and nine Open tournaments.
The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Sao Paolo Grand Slam which runs from September 23-28.