Ludwig/Walkenhorst Knock Out #1 Seeds At Beach World Championships

  0 Braden Keith | August 04th, 2017 | Beach, Brazilian Volleyball, European volleyball, FIVB Majors Series, FIVB World Tour, International Volleyball, News, Pro Beach


While the men’s Olympic Champions ended their run on Saturday in the round of 16 in Vienna, the women’s defending champions Kira Walkenhorst/Laura Ludwig plowed ahead into the gold medal match. They knocked off the top-seeded Brazilians Larissa/Talita 2-0 (21-19, 21-16).

In spite of being the defending Olympic, European, and World Tour champions, Ludwig/Walkenhorst still entered the tournament as somewhat of underdogs. The pairing got a late start to their year after Laura Ludwig underwent shoulder surgery in the off-season, She didn’t play her first competitive matches until early May.

In just their 3rd tournament back, Ludwig/Walkenhorst were eliminated in the Rio 4-star by Summer Ross/ Brooke Sweat in a 21-19, 21-13 outcome. The Germans avenged that loss on Friday morning when they swept Summer/Ross out of the quarterfinals of the tournament.

They then faced another huge test in the top-seeded Brazilians – who had also beaten the Germans in all 3 of their matchups so far this season.

Up until this point, the Brazilians had been almost untouchable, dropping only 1 set the entire tournament, including a number of routs in earlier matches.

But against Ludwig/Walkenhorst, the things that have been working for the Brazilians struggled.

“We repeated the same strategy we had used on the last two matches against them, which we won, but something was not working well between Talita and I today,” Larissa said. “In a game like this, where details really matter, it’s hard to win if things don’t go the way you planned.”

They were out-blocked 5-0, and had only 2 aces as compared to 4 for the Germans. What’s more, the typically precise passing that had previously allowed Larissa/Talita to hit from very controlled spots wasn’t there in Friday’s loss. That was due largely to high pressure from the German serve.

“Actually I’m really happy we got back to our service game,” Walkenhorst said after the match. “We put a lot of pressure on them. It was really important that in this match we got it because if you make only easy serves against Larissa and Talita, a good team, they will sideout every ball. So it was important we found it in this game. Actually, it was pretty good that we put a lot of pressure on both of them and now I was free to change something in blocking. (On playing for gold): It’s amazing. Actually, I can’t believe it right now. The last month we worked really hard and actually I didn’t believe we could get it or could go to the final. Of course there was a lot of hope we could come back to our game and make a good result here. But to be in the final now is amazing.”

Compare the shot charts from their morning quarterfinal win to their evening semi-final loss. In the quarterfinals, the passes were pinpoint and allowed the Brazilians to set and hit from the edges both along the line and on sharp cross-court shots. In the semi-finals, those sets were more scattered.

Quarterfinals Shot Chart:

Semifinals Shot Chart:

  • Red lines are blocked points or balls hit out
  • Black lines are scored points
  • Green lines are shots that didn’t score for either team.
  • Service charts are on the left, shot charts are on the right

“I think they played much better than us,” Talita said. “OK, the first set we lost but in the second set we played so bad. It’s always hard against them, they are the Olympic gold medalists. Today was a German day, not our day. They served so well. They are a team with a good serve. A little bit disappointed in our passing. I think in the tournament we didn’t make mistakes but today they served so well. Tomorrow is one more match so we have to forget about today. It’s important to win a bronze. We’re in the World Championships and the tournament is so nice. OK, we lost the semifinal but the tournament is not dead. We are going to put all our energy into tomorrow.”

Neither Brazilian had much success in the match. In the first, Germany forced the hand of Talita, and he hit just 35%. In spite of that success, they then forced the hand of Talita in the 2nd, and while she hit better at 50%, the Germans were an offensive machine in the 2nd, hitting at their own 57% clip.

Brazil, meanwhile, tested the surgically-repaired shoulder of Ludwig, and she performed fairly well with 16 of the team’s 23 kills in the match. Walkenhorst was the star though, landing 58% of her shots, recording all 5 of the team’s blocks, and 3 of the team’s 4 aces. She was hitting mostly cross-court in limited opportunities, whereas Ludwig was peppering the court.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Braden's first foray into sports journalism came in 2010, when he launched a swimming website called The Swimmers' Circle. Two years later, he joined as a co-founder. Long huge fans of volleyball, when Braden and the SwimSwam partners sought an opportunity to …

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