Ross achieves 500th win as Americans join Brazilians, Dutch & Germans in Gstaad golden chase
Gstaad, Switzerland, July 8, 2016 - April Ross achieved a career milestone here Friday, but winning two elimination matches with Kerri Walsh Jennings took precedent as the Americans joined teams from Brazil, Germany and The Netherlands in Saturday’s “final four” for this week’s US$800,000 Gstaad Major as the Swiss Alps village hosts a women’s FIVB World Tour event for the 17-straight year.
The second-seeded Ross and Walsh Jennings will play third-seeded Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in Saturday’s second semi-final after seventh-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands challenge top-seeded and defending Gstaad Major champions Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil. The winning two teams will be competing Saturday afternoon for the Gstaad Major gold medals and the $57,000 first-place prize.
The Brazilians have won six-straight matches from Meppelink and Van Iersel on the FIVB World Tour, including a quarterfinal win last month at the smart Major Hamburg. Ross and Walsh Jennings hold a 4-1 international edge over Ludwig and Walkenhorst, but the Germans defeated the Americans in the smart Major Hamburg semi-finals.
Ross, who became the ninth women’s player to win 500 FIVB World Tour matches in her first contest Friday, and Walsh Jennings advanced to their 17th international “final four” in 28 FIVB events with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) quarter-final win in 33 minutes over 18th-seeded Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler of Germany. It was the second win of the Gstaad Major for Ross and Walsh Jennings over the Germans with a pool play win Thursday.
Before winning for the third time in four FIVB meetings with Holtwick and Semmler, Ross and Walsh Jennings advanced to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 (21-14, 21-12) win in 31 minutes over 26th-seeded qualifiers Lane Carico and Summer Ross of the United States. It was Ross’ 500th FIVB match win as she and Walsh Jennings have won three of four FIVB meetings with their American rivals.
Talita and Larissa advanced to the 16th FIVB World Tour “final four” in 24 international starts with a 2-0 (21-16, 21-14) in a 33-minute quarter-final win over 11th-seeded Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy, who eliminated the Brazilians from last week’s Porec Major in Croatia. Talita and Larissa have now won three of five matches with the Italians on the FIVB World Tour with four meetings this season.
Both of Talita and Larissa’s opponents Friday are headed to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the Brazilians as Talita and Larissa opened play Friday with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) win in 28 minutes over fourth-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada. It was Talita and Larissa’s seventh win in eight FIVB World Tour matches with the Canadians.
Ludwig and Walkenhorst advanced to their fourth-straight world tour semi-final and 16th in 35 FIVB starts together with a 2-0 () 21-19, 21-17) win in 35 minutes over compatriots Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude. It was Ludwig and Walkenhorst’s second win this week and third overall on the FIVB circuit over their German rivals. In pool action Wednesday, Ludwig and Walkenhorst posted a 2-1 (14-21, 26-24, 15-9) Pool C win Laboureur and Sude.
As the top-ranked team on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour with four gold medal finishes, Ludwig and Walkenhorst opened play Friday with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) win in 35 minutes over 16th-seeded Juliana Felisberta and Taiana Lima of Brazil/. Ludwig and Walkenhorst have won their last two matches from Brazilians after losing to the Juliana and Lima on their home sand in Fortaleza at the end of April.
Meppelink and Van Iersel earned their 10th semi-final appearance in 30 FIVB World Tour events together by posting back-to-back three-set wins Friday over 21st-seeded qualifiers Maria Antonelli/Liliane Maestrini of Brazil 2-1(21-18, 18-21, 15-10) in 50 minutes and 15th-seeded Lauren Fendrick/Brooke Sweat of United States 2-1 (17-21, 21-16, 15-13) in 49 minutes.
The Dutch pair, who finished 17th at last week’s Porec Major, were playing Antonelli and Maestrini for the first-time on the FIVB World Tour. Meppelink and Van Iersel are now 4-1 against Fendrick and Sweat, who will be competing in the Rio Olympic with their Dutch rivals.
Speaking of the Olympics, all four Gstaad finalists will be seeded among the top six teams for the Copacabana competition with Talita/Larissa first, Ross/Walsh Jennings third, Ludwig/Walkenhorst fourth and Meppelink/Van Iersel sixth. Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, the reigning FIVB world Champions, will be seeded second with Bansley and Pavan No. 5.