The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is back in the USA for the first time in a decade. Saturday’s schedule will include the men’s bronze and gold medal matches along with the women’s semifinals of the special ASICS World Series Cup which will feature two teams from the USA in one semifinal along with teams from Brazil and Germany in the other. The two winners will meet in the cup final on Sunday.
The gold medal teams in each gender in the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam will each split $33,000, the silver $22,000, the bronze $16,500 and fourth place $12,900.
The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is back in the USA for the first time since 2003. With the event being held for the first time in Long Beach the purpose-built site is located on the expansive glistening sands of Marina Green Park on East Lakeshore Drive. Matches at the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS, are scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. Saturday with the men’s bronze medal match of the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam at 11:00 a.m. and the men’s gold medal grand slam match closing the day’s competition at 2:00 p.m.
In the special USA vs. the world ASICS World Series Cup, the women’s semifinals will be played at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Saturday. While the FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS concludes on Saturday, The ASICS World Series Cup on Sunday, the event finishes with the men’s semifinals at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., the women’s final at 1:30 p.m. and the men’s final at 3:00 p.m. General admission is free to the event. VIP tickets are on sale through the event website at www.wsobv.com.
GOLD MEDAL MATCH In another one of those battles for the ages between veteran compatriots who are very familiar with each other even though they were meeting for only the fourth time on the FIVB World Tour, Brazil’s No. 2-seeded Lima/Antunes gutted out their fourth consecutive three-set match in the tournament to slip past Brazil’s No. 4-seeded sisters Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado, 20-22, 21-15, 15-13 in the 61-minute women’s finale.
As could easily be expected, all three sets were close, especially the first and third that could have gone either way but Brazil’s Lima/Antunes pulled it out with grit and determination and just enough good breaks to move their record as a team with Brazil’s Salgado sisters to 4-1. Almost saving the best for last, the 61-minute gold medal match was the longest women’s match of the tournament.
Said an exhausted Antunes following the colorful awarding ceremony, “This was a great FIVB tournament, I think we played really well and it was wonderful playing in America. When it comes down to it we are just trying to do our best at all times. The championship was a great match, we played really well in this gold medal match, much better than we have been playing in the matches leading up to this one. The Salgado sisters played really well too in this match we have nothing but respect for them.”
In just their eighth FIVB international tournament playing together, Brazil’s Lima/Antunes earned their fourth gold medal of the 2013 FIVB World Tour and fifth final four tournament finish. Both veteran players, this event was Lima’s eighth FIVB World Tour/Open final four and fourth gold medal. For Antunes, Long Beach was her 58th career final four and here 17th gold medal.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH In another exciting match in a tournament filled with close contests, Germany’s No. 7-seeded Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler held off a great effort by USA’s No. 15-seeded Emily Day/Summer Ross to earn the bronze medal Friday afternoon in straight sets, 21-18, 25-23 in 39 minutes. In the first meeting between the two teams, it was the third bronze medal of the 2013 FIVB World Tour for Germany’s veteran Holtwick/Semmler and for the young Americans it was the first final four for USA’s Day/Ross as there string of upsets ended Friday with close losses in both the bronze medal match and the semifinals.
For Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler, this was their 73rd FIVB international tournament together, their fifth bronze medal and 11th final four placement. Just playing their fourth FIVB international event as a team, this was the first final four finish for USA’s Day, 25 and Ross, 20. Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler finish the tournament with a 6-2 record for the week while USA’s Day/Ross enjoyed playing in their home country, leaving Long Beach with a 5-3 mark that included three losses to Brazilian gold medal winners Lima/Antunes.
SEMIFINALS Brazil’s Salgado sisters started things off in the first semifinal Friday morning with an impressive two-set victory over Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler, 21-15, 21-12 in 38 minutes. The Salgados were in control in both sets playing near error-free. With the victory, Brazil’s Maria Clara Salgado/Carolina Salgado increased their career record against Germany’s Holtwick/Semmler to 7-1.
In the second semifinal Brazil’s Lima/Antunes hand their hands full with USA’s Day/Ross but finally prevailed in three sets finally after coming from behind to win, 22-24, 22-20, 16-14 in 60 minutes. In a rematch of a pool play match on Wednesday which was won by Brazil’s Lima/Antunes in two sets, 21-15, 21-18, Things were much different in their semifinal meeting. USA’s youthful Day/Ross stunningly came back from a three-point, 17-20 deficit in the first set to tie the match at 20-20 win and took advantage of two hitting errors by Lima to win 24-22.
Brazil’s veteran Lima/Antunes didn’t lose their pose and despite being down two match points in the second set, came back win and then to secure the victory and advance to the gold medal match by winning the third. In the second set, the match was tied five times and the lead changed hands four times before Brazil’s Lima/Antunes stormed back from deficits of 16-19 and 18-20 to score the final four points of the set. The tiebreaker set was even closer than the second with nine ties and one lead change. Brazil saw the Americans rally to tie the score at 14-14 before scoring the last two points for the set and match win with a Lima poke shot over Ross and ending as Antunes blocked Ross’ kill attempt.
The FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam, presented by ASICS is the showcase part of the ASICS World Series of Beach Volleyball, a SoCal beach festival that includes 4-person and 6-person recreational events, a youth tournament and nightly music concerts. Also part of the event is the inaugural ASICS World Series Cup featuring two teams in each gender from the USA against two international teams with the finals on Sunday. In addition to the international live FIVB telecasts, the event also features 23 hours of live or same-day telecasts split between NBC Sports Network, Universal Network and NBC TV Network.
The FIVB Long Beach Grand Slam is the 291st FIVB international men’s event since the FIVB began play in 1987 and the 253rd FIVB women’s tournament since women started international competition in 1992.
The 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is comprised of 10 Grand Slam events and the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. Not part of the World Tour but still counting towards the FIVB World Rankings, the FIVB yearly calendar also includes seven Open events, five double-gender and two women-only. There is a double-gender FIVB Open event being playing this week as well in Anapa, Russia.
After another week off next week, the 10-Grand Slam 2013 FIVB World Tour will continue in two weeks in Germany at the $440,000 FIVB Berlin Grand Slam. The season finale of the tour will be in Brazil in mid-October at the $440,000 FIVB Sao Paulo Grand Slam.