Hours before Rio 2016 Olympic draw, Brazilians Talita and Larissa make a “major” statement in Gstaad

Gstaad, Switzerland, July 9, 2016 - Three-plus hours before knowing their pool opponents for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Talita Antunes and Larissa proved that there was not a foe better than them in the world as Brazilians successfully defending their Gstaad Major title here Sunday afternoon with a convincing win over Americans April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings.

In defeating their second-seeded Americans rivals 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) in 33 minutes, Talita and Larissa posted their fourth win in five FIVB World Tour matches with Ross and Walsh Jennings.  Four of the matches have been for gold medals with the Brazilians holding a 3-1 edge in the finales.

The top-seeded Talita and Larissa shared the US$57,000 first-place prize in winning their 13th international gold medal in 24 FIVB World Tour starts together.  The Gstaad Major gold medal finish was Larissa fifth title in 11 appearances in the Swiss event while Talita was topping the podium in the Alps village for the third-time in eight starts.

With the Gstaad Major being the 309th women’s FIVB World Tour event, Saturday’s finale featured the two countries that have won the most gold medals and played in the most title matches together.  The Brazilian women have now won 152 gold medals and the American women have won 101 titles as Ross and Walsh Jennings were seeking their 11th international gold medal together.

To reach the Gstaad Major finale, Talita and Larissa posted a 2-0 (21-18, 21-19) semi-final win in 39 minutes over seventh-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands.  It was the Brazilians’ seventh-straight win over the Dutch in as many international matches between the two teams.

Ross and Walsh Jennings’ path to the finale was more difficult as the Americans were trailing 20-17 in the second set to third-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst after losing the first set 21-18 to the Germans.  Ross and Walsh Jennings rallied to score six of the last seven points to win 23-21.  The Americans won the third set 15-11 to capture the 54-minute semi-final match.

With the win, Ross and Walsh Jennings avenged a semi-final setback to Ludwig and Walkenhorst last month at the smart Major Hamburg where the Germans posted a 2-1 (21-16, 19-21, 16-14) win in 59 minutes for their first-ever win over the Americans.  Saturday’s win for Ross and Walsh Jennings was their fifth in six FIVB World Tour meetings with Ludwig and Walkenhorst.

In the bronze medal match, Ludwig and Walkenhorst rebounded from their semi-final setback to share the $32,000 third-place prize by posting a 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) win in 33 minutes over Meppelink and Van Iersel.  It was the seventh FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams with the Dutch still holding a 4-3 edge in the series.

One event remains before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the fourth of five SWATCH Major Series events July 26-31 in Klagenfurt, Austria.  The $800,000 A1 Major Klagenfurt will feature both women’s and men’s competition as the FIVB World Tour returns to Carinthia capital for the 18th-time, but for the first-time since the 2014 season.

With the Rio Olympic Games being played August 6-18, the FIVB World Tour resumes with its final two events starting with the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball August 23-28 in the United States in southern California at Long Beach followed by the SWATCH FIVB World Tour September 13-18 at a site to be announced in the coming weeks.

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