Brazil faces Germany for women’s gold at FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, October 10, 2015 — Staying focused through three tough elimination rounds, teams from Brazil and Germany emerged Saturday and the talented tandems will meet in Sunday’s women’s gold medal match at the double-gender $150,000 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open, the season opening event on the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

Sunday’s women’s gold medal match is scheduled for 5 p.m. local time preceded by the women’s bronze medal match at 3 p.m.

The double-gender event, the first of three tournaments on the 2015 portion of the 2016 FIVB World Tour schedule, is being held through Sunday at the purpose-built event site on Playa Camarones. Back in Puerto Vallarta for the second straight year, meeting in the women’s gold medal match will be Brazil’s 12th-seeded Eduarda Lisboa/Elize Maia meeting Germany’s top-seeded Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst.  In the women’s bronze medal match, Italy’s fourth-seeded Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth will play against Netherlands’ 10th-seeded Sophie van Gestel/Jantine van der Vlist.

The gold medal team in each gender at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open will split $11,000, the silver $8,000, the bronze $6,000 and fourth place $4,500.

Meeting for the first time, Germany’s top-seeded Ludwig/Walkenhorst will meet Brazil’s 12th-seeded Lisboa/Maia for the gold medal at the FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open.

This is the 26th FIVB international event for Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst as a team and in their first 25 events together they have 11 final four finishes including two gold medals, three silver medals and three bronze medals. Individually, Ludwig has played in 122 FIVB international events and won two FIVB gold medals and Walkenhorst has played in 34 career FIVB international events with two FIVB gold medals.

In Puerto Vallarta, Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst have a perfect 6-0 record with all of their matches being won in two sets. Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst won the gold medal at this year’s FIVB Yokohama Grand Slam in Japan and earned the silver medal last week at the FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., USA.

Brazil’s Lisboa/Maia duo is playing in their fourth FIVB international event as a team with one bronze medal in their first three tournaments. Individually, Lisboa has played in 13 FIVB international tournaments and Maia has played in 12. In Puerto Vallarta, Brazil’s Lisboa/Maia are 6-1 with four of their victories coming in three sets.

Lisboa, one of the youngest players on the FIVB World Tour at 17 years old, won gold medals at the U19 FIVB World Championships with Taina Silver in 2013 and with Andressa Cavalcanti in 2014. She also won the gold medal at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games with Ana Patricia Silva.

Battling for the bronze medal in Puerto Vallarta Sunday in their first FIVB meeting will be two of the top younger teams on the FIVB World Tour--Italy’s fourth-seeded Menegatti/Orsi Toth vs. Netherlands’ 10th-seeded van Gestel/van der Vlist.

Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth are playing in their 28th FIVB International tournament and in their first 27 events they have seven final four finishes including one gold medal, one silver and one bronze medal. Individually, Menegatti has played in 80 FIVB international events with one gold medal while Orsi Toth has played in 40 with one FIVB gold medal. In Puerto Vallarta, Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth have a 5-1 record, including winning their pool with a 3-0 record.

This is the seventh FIVB international tournament for Netherlands’ van Gestel/van der Vlist, and this is their second final four appearance in their first six events. Individually, van Gestel has played in 43 FIVB international events with one gold medal and van der Vlist has played in 67 with two fourth place finishes.  In Puerto Vallarta, they have compiled a 5-2 record

With light rain starting to fall turning down the heat on center court during the first women’s semifinal, Germany’s top-seeded Ludwig/Walkenhorst started things off by taking just two sets to march past Italy’s fourth-seeded Menegatti/Orsi Toth, 21-12, 21-18 in 38 minutes.

As the cooling, light, steady rain continued to fall on the stadium court and the fun-soaked capacity crowd, the final semifinal of the day was a three-set beauty that saw Brazil’s 12th-seeded Lisboa/Maia come from behind to defeat Netherlands’ 10th-seeded van Gestel/van der Vlist, 19-21, 21-17 and 15-12 in 47 minutes.

Saturday’s mid-day quarterfinals brought out the best in the focused field in Puerto Vallarta with one seed breakthroughs.

Germany’s top-seeded Ludwig/Walkenhorst started things off on the Playa Camarones stadium court by defeating Vanauatu’s surprising sixth-seeded Miller Pata/Linline Matauatu in two sets, 21-11, 21-16 in 33 minutes followed by Italy’s fourth-seeded Menegatti/ Orsi Toth who beat France’s 19th-seeded Laura Longuet/Alexandra Jupiter, 21-15, 21-15 in 39 minutes.

In the only quarterfinal upset, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Lisboa/Maia toppled Argentina’s fifth-seeded Ana Gallay/Georgina Klug, 21-18, 21-15 in 38 minutes and Netherlands’ 10th-seeded van Gestel/van der Vlist won the other quarterfinal by defeating Japan’s 23rd-seeded Takemi Nishibori/Sayaka Mizoe, 21-19, 21-12 in 34 minutes.

The quarterfinal losers were eliminated and leave Puerto Vallarta with official fifth-place finishes and purses of $3,375 per team.

The upset theme continued during the round of 16 with three more seed breakthroughs.

In the first four matches in the round of 16 Saturday morning, Germany’s top-seeded Ludwig/Walkenhorst held off Switzerland’s 21st-seeded youthful qualification team Nicole Eiholzer/Nina Betschart in two sets, Italy’s fourth-seeded Menegatti/Orsi Toth went three sets to finally overcome USA’s 16th-seeded Summer Ross/Lane Carico, Vanauatu’s sixth-seeded Pata/Matauatu got by Canada’s 13th-seeded Melisa Humana-Parades/Taylor Pischke in two sets and France’s 19th-seeded Longuet/Jupiter upset Germany’s seventh-seeded Julia Sude/Chantal Laboureur who finished fourth in the 2014 FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open, in three sets.

In the final group of four matches in the round, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Lisboa/Maia stunned Switzerland’s third-seeded Isabelle Forrer/Anouk Verge-Depre in three sets, Argentina’s fifth-seeded Gallay/Klug beat USA’s 27th-seeded qualification team Heather McGuire/Amanda Dowdy in two sets, Netherlands’ 10th-seeded van Gestel/van der Vlist toppled Netherlands’ 24th-seeded compatriots (qualification team) Rimke Braakman/Jolien Sinnema in twin sets and Japan’s 23rd-seeded Nishibori/ Mizoe recorded an impressive seed breakthrough win over Austria’s 18th-seeded Barbara Hansel/Stefanie Schwaiger.

The losers in the round of 16 were eliminated and leave Puerto Vallarta with official ninth-place finishes and purses of $2,000 per team.

Playing three matches on Saturday, Germany’s top-seeded Ludwig/Walkenhorst continued their methodical machine-like play, winning their sixth straight match in Puerto Vallarta, all in just two sets and the longest lasted 39 minutes in their pool play win over USA’s S. Ross/Carico.

In their semifinal win over Italy’s Menegatti/Orsi Toth, Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst made few mistakes, built up sizeable leads in both sets and defeated the Italians for the fourth time in five meetings, although this was the first time they played each other in 2015 and first meeting since the Italians won in three sets in the round of 16 at the FIVB Fuzhou Open in China. Ludwig’s defense shined once again and Walkenhorst’s net play was once again remarkable.

Never ceasing to thrill the enthusiastic crowd with acrobatic moves, spectacular saves and voracious kills, Brazil’s 12th-seeded Lisboa/Maia overcame a bit of a slow start against Netherlands’ equally-young 10th-seeded van Gestel/van der Vlist. The talented Dutch team started slightly more consistently than the equally-talented Brazilian team whom they caught a little off-balance in the first meeting between the two teams.  

In the second set, the Brazilians started gathering steam to win by a wider margin (four points) then they lost the first set (two).  In the tiebreaker set, Brazil’s Lisboa/Maia broke it open early and held on in the closing stages as the Dutch dug deeper but could come back all the way to tie it and Brazil’s Lisboa/Maia closed out the match at 15-12 by outscoring the Dutch duo 4-1 at the end.

After their semifinal win, Germany’s Ludwig said, “This year we didn’t play Italians at all even though had played them four times before, so I think that was a bit of a difference. We watched them sometimes but we were actually really surprised about their game, but we didn’t had to change or tactical game, we were just focusing on the defense, passing, blocking and of course the serves.”

Ludwig’s teammate Walkenhorst added “We want to perform really good tomorrow and we don’t want to talk about winning a gold medal because that gets us really nervous. We’ll do our best and see what’s happening tomorrow.”

Brazil’s Maia remarked following her team’s semi victory, saying “I’m so blessed to have Eduarda as my partner. She played really well today, she definitely gave her best inside the court and she was the one cheering me up during every point. After we lost the first set, even though she is so young, she was the one picking me up from the ground and I think besides our game the attitude definitely made the difference. “

The FIVB Puerto Vallarta Open is the 330th men’s event since the FIVB began men’s competition in 1987 and the 294th FIVB women’s tournament since they started in 1992.

After the season-opening event in Puerto Vallarta, the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, with placement points counting in the FIVB Olympic Rankings for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, continues with the two remaining 2016 FIVB World Tour events on the 2015 portion of the schedule. The first will be the double-gender $150,000 FIVB Antalya Open in Turkey (Oct. 20-25) and the final event in 2015 will be the men’s only $75,000 FIVB Doha Open in Qatar (Nov. 9-13).


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