2015-06-06 20:32:00 CET
Brazil earned the first-ever Swatch Beach Volleyball Major Series gold in Poreč Croatia on Saturday, June 6, with silver and bronze going to Canada and Australia in women's competition. Men's Semi Final matchups are set ahead of medal round duals as the road to Rio continues on Sunday.
While temperatures soared at the Poreč Major in Croatia on Saturday, no one was hotter than Brazilian beach volleyball stars Larissa Franca and Talita De Rocha Antunes. The top seeds were determined to be the first players ever to stand on the top step of a Swatch Major Series podium, but after winning the first set of the Gold Medal Match 21-16, they got a major scare from hard-fighting 17 seeds Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada, who replied by taking the second set 27-25. As fans in the packed 4,000-seat Center Court screamed with excitement, the Brazilians finally sealed the deal, finishing off their rivals by capturing the third set 15-12.
The battle for the bronze was also a heated affair, with the Australian team of Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy earning their first FIVB World Tour medal together by conquering the other Canadian pair in the final four, Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas.
The gold medal victory continued a winnning streak for the Brazilians, who not only earned a healthy share of the $800,000USD prize money and Olympic qualifying points on offer, but have now claimed top honors in the last six consecutive tournaments they've played. Canadian fans, too, celebrated a milestone: the Poreč Major marked the first time Canada has ever had two women's teams in a final four, and the silver medal was icing on the cake.
“There is no secret,” said Brazil's Larissa, who now has 52 golds to her name. “This match was very hard. But I love playing beach volleyball, and this was one of the best days ever for me.”
For the men, Saturday's Quarter Final rounds established the lineup for the Semi Final matches to come on Sunday morning ahead of the all-important medal rounds. And against all expectations, there are no teams from the world powerhouse of Brazil on the roster.
Canadians Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, seeded number 17, ousted Brazilian beach volleyball legends Ricardo Santos and Emanuel Rego, the number two seeds, in a three-set, 71-minute Quarter Final marathon. The duo from Canada will go up against the six seeds, Reinder Nummerdor and Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands, in the final four.
Meanwhile, the upstart team of Alex Ranghieri and Adrian Ignacio Carambula of Italy eliminated ninth-seeded Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Salgado of Brazil to set up a David vs. Goliath scenario in the other Semi Final match. The 31 seeds from Italy will take on reigning World Champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands on Sunday morning.