Porec, Croatia, July 2, 2016 - What was looking as an All-German women’s finale here Sunday turned into a North America vs. Europe gold medal match as Canadians Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan upset heavily-favored Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst to advance their second straight Porec Major title contest.
With a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) win in 41 minutes over the second-seeded Ludwig and Walkenhorst of Germany, the fourth-seeded Bansley and Pavan will face another team from the European country in 19th-seeded qualifiers Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude for the $57,000 first-place prize with the loser splitting $43,000.
The Canadian win also snapped Ludwig and Walkenhorst’s 19-match world tour winning streak as the Germans had won the last two FIVB events in Germany (Hamburg) and Poland (Olsztyn). Counting the European championships early last month in Switzerland where Ludwig and Walkenhorst won their second-straight continental title, the Germans had a 24-match victory string.
Before Bansley and Pavan improved their FIVB World Tour match mark to 4-1 over Ludwig and Walkenhorst, Laboureur and Sude posted a 2-0 (21-19, 22-20) win in 39 minutes over 10th-seeded compatriots Karla Borger and Britta Buthe to tie the international series between the two teams at 2-2.
Laboureur and Sude will be attempting to become the 11th women’s team to win a FIVB World Tour event after advancing to the Main Draw through the qualifier. The German pair defeated a team from the Czech Republic in Tuesday’s qualifier with their only blemish in the tournament being a two-set lost to third-seeded and reigning FIVB world champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas of Brazil Wednesday. Friday, Borger and Buthe eliminated Agatha and Barbara in two sets.
Bansley and Pavan, who placed second to Brazilians Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca in the 2015 Porec Major, will be seeking their fourth win in five FIVB World Tour matches with Laboureur and Sude. The German pair did win the last meeting versus the Canadians with a 2-1 (21-17, 12-21, 15-8) pool play victory in 37 minutes three weeks ago in the smart Major Hamburg.
With the US$800,000 Porec Major being the 308th FIVB World Tour event, Canada and Germany will be meeting for the second time with Laboureur and Sude involved in each. The first Canada vs. Germany finale marked the first-ever FIVB World Tour gold medal for the North American country as Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas defeated Laboureur and Sude in 2015 Chinese Open in Fuzhou.
Broder and Valjas, who placed ninth this week in the Porec Major after finishing fourth here last season when Canada had two teams in the semi-finals, will join Bansley and Pavan as Rio 2016 Olympics participants as the North American country will have two women’s teams in the Summer Games quadrennial for the first time.
Both the Canadian and German finalists will also be seeking their first-ever gold medal as Bansley and Pavan are 0-2 in title matches with Laboureur and Sude 0-3 with an earlier setback this season in April at the Chinese Open in Fuzhou to American Olympic medalists April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
The women’s bronze medal match will feature the two teams that will represent Germany in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Ludwig and Walkenhorst hold a 2-1 edge in the FIVB World Tour series with Borger and Buthe winning the last meeting at the 2015 Grand Slam in the United States.