Olympic champions seeking SWATCH Finals validation

Toronto, Canada, September 18, 2016 - The sixth and final day of competition at the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals wraps up here Sunday on Polson Pier with Rio Olympic champions Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil and Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany seeking to validate their gold medal successes on Copacabana last month.

Both teams will be playing Sunday at the US$500,000 event as the women’s gold medal match was moved from Saturday.  Ludwig and Walkenhorst will be challenged by Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland in the finale with the winning team capturing the $100,000 first-place prize.

Ludwig and Walkenhorst will be looking to avenge a setback in the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals to Heidrich and Zumkehr as the Swiss pair posted a 2-1 (10-21, 21-16, 15-8) Pool B win in 45 minutes over the Germans Thursday.

Heidrich and Zumkehr, who hold a 2-1 edge in the FIVB World Tour meetings with Ludwig and Walkenhorst, advanced to the finals Sunday with a 2-1 (14-21, 21-15, 15-9) semi-final win in 54 minutes Saturday morning over compatriots Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre.

After losing their first two matches in the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals, Ludwig and Walkenhorst have bounced back with three-straight victories highlighted by a quarter-final win over April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States Friday and a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) semi-final win Saturday in 38 minutes over Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil.

Talita and Larissa were the defending SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals champions after defeating Ludwig and Walkenhorst for the 2015 gold medal last October in the United States on Fort Lauderdale Beach in south Florida.  The Germans also defeated Talita and Larissa in the Rio Olympic semi-final last month on Copacabana.

Alison and Bruno, the defending SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals champions, will be vying with four other men’s teams for the $100,000 paycheck as the Brazilians play host country favorites Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk in the second of two men’s semi-final matches in the morning.  Sunday’s schedule opens with unheralded Tri Bourne/John Hyden of the United States challenging Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil.

Saxton and Schalk, who became the second Canadian team to reach a FIVB semi-final at an event in the North American country, will be looking to snap a five-match losing streak against Alison and Bruno.  Overall, the Brazilians have won seven of eight FIVB World Tour matches with Saxton and Schalk.

Bourne and Hyden’s Pool D proved to be the toughest in the 2016 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals as all three teams advanced to the semi-finals along with Alison and Bruno from Pool A.  The Americans will be looking for their second-straight win over Evandro and Pedro after defeating the Brazilians 2-1 (19-21, 21-18, 15-12) in 49 minutes Wednesday.

On Thursday, Bourne and Hyden claimed their pool by defeating Saxton and Schalk 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) in 34 minutes.  Saxton and Schalk finished second in Pool D by out-lasting Evandro and Pedro 2-1 (23-21, 15-21, 15-13) in 54 minutes Friday.
John Child and Mark Heese were the first team from the North American country compete in a “final four” on Canadian sand as the pair claimed the silver medals at the 2000 and 2002 FIVB World Tour stops in Toronto and Montreal, respectively.  The bronze medal winners at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, Child and Heese dropped both finales to Brazilian pairs with the 2000 gold medal setback to Jose Loiola/Emanuel Rego and the 2002 title loss to Loiola/Ricardo Santos.


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