2017 FIVB BEACH VOLLEYBALL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS – VIENNA
- July 28 to August 6
- Vienna Centre Court, Vienna, Austria
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Olympic gold medalists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst will vie to become the first European women’s team to claim the top spot at FIVB Beach Worlds on Saturday, but they will have to get through Americans April Ross and Lauren Fendrick first.
Ross is no stranger to the podium as she won gold at Beach Worlds with Jen Kessy in 2009 and also grabbed bronze at the 2016 Olympics with then partner Kerri Walsh Jennings. Fendrick is making her first ever finals appearance at an FIVB event.
Ludwig/Walkenhorst, who are looking to win the year’s triple crown – following the Rio gold and Swatch FIVB World Tour championship – ousted top seeded Larissa Franca and Talita Altunes of Brazil with a 21-19, 21-16 victory Friday afternoon. The Germans outdid the Brazilians in every statistical category: kills (23-22), blocks (5-0) and aces (4-2). Walkenhorst took care of the net defense and aces with all five blocks and three of the team’s aces. Ludwig chipped in 16 kills and an ace.
“I’m really happy we got back to our service game. We put a lot of pressure on them,” Walkenhorst said. “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.”
With the gold medal match looming, and Ludwig returning from a shoulder injury, the victory was even sweeter.
“It’s unbelievable,” Ludwig said. “I still can’t believe we made it (to play for gold). I had those pictures in my head but I couldn’t believe we could really do it. I believed in it, but I can’t believe I’m sitting here now.”
Ross/Fendrick survived a three-set battle with No.7 seed Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan, rallying from a close 21-19 Set 1 defeat.
The Americans excelled from the service line, with five aces, four by Ross, and at the net where Fendrick downed 23 kills and Ross added 17. Pavan made things tough with seven blocks, but it was not enough to lift the Canadians to victory.
“You can’t just let her (Sarah) just be big,” Fendrick said. “You have to find things to make her do thing to make her do things to make her uncomfortable and block a little smaller. She still had a lot of blocks. But we stayed with our game plan and didn’t let those plays affect the next play. There definitely was no dagger. I didn’t feel comfortable at any point until that last ball went out. They are a great defensive team and they score really well, so I knew we had to beat them to scoring those points. I had to side out better than I started, obviously with three blocks that were against me in the first set. And we had to put a little more pressure on them defensively.”
Pavan said the team had a bad match all around, but will regroup for tomorrow’s bronze medal match.
“The things we did very well all tournament, that match we didn’t,” Pavan said. “Our sideout was not good. They made some adjustments as far as moving the ball around, they weren’t swinging as much. We weren’t able to turn the balls into second and third sets like they were in the first. We got ourselves into a little bit of a hole in both of those sets and we had to fight our way back. I can’t take anything away from them. They played very well. But it’s hard to swallow when we know we weren’t good today. We’re going to prepare hard tonight and do everything we can tomorrow because we do want to be on the podium. Bronze is definitely not what we anticipated or wanted.”
Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst (Germany) def. Larissa Franca/Talita Altunes (Brazil) 21-19, 21-16
Lauren Fendrick/April Ross (USA) def. Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan (Canada) 19-21, 21-16, 15-11