FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam titles

Xiamen – China, October 27, 2013: April Ross and Kerri Walsh of the United States held off world No. 1 Taiana Lima and Talita Da Rocha Antunes of Brazil in three sets here Sunday afternoon to win back-to-back FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Grand Slam titles.

The American duo, who had captured the gold medal of the Sao Paulo Grand Slam two weeks ago, beat Lima/Talita 21-14, 17-21 and 15-12 in a three-set thriller in the final of the season-ending Xiamen Grand Slam for their second championship in three World Tour events together.

“My new partner is wonderful, in so many ways, she is such an amazing volleyball players, she makes my life on the court very very easy,” said Walsh after landing her 21st Grand Slam title and 46th career win. “Her energy is great, her target is great and her skills are unbelievable. So it’s going to be very fun partnership.”

The three-time Olympic gold medal winner has already put her eyes on the 2016 Rio Games. “Yes. We are going for gold for the next Olympic Games,” added the 35-year-old Walsh. “It’s fantastic. It’s such a great start. We are going to have a great off-season, and then go to work and come back next year even stronger and keep chasing our dreams.”

London Olympic silver medal winner Ross was also excited with the amazing start of the new combination with Walsh. “I can’t say it’s what I expected necessarily, but it’s what I hoped for and we had to fight really hard, ” said Ross, who had now six Grand Slam title to her belt. “We didn’t start this tournament out very good, and we had to fight for every point and we got much better towards the end. I love starting our partnership with two gold medals, that’s amazing.”

After splitting the first two sets with the Brazilians, Ross and Walsh made two fine spikes apiece to have a 4-0 lead in the tie-breaker. Having reaped five FIVB Grand Slam titles together this season, Lima/Talita fought back strongly to pull within 8-7. Then Walsh came up big with a dink and a block against Lima to lead a 4-1 run that pushed the Americans up to 12-8. Lima/Talita managed to cut it to 14-12, only to find Walsh wrap up the match in 46 minutes with a drop shot.

“We just got too excited and started playing too fast we made too many errors in the second game and they played better,” said Walsh. “In game three we took a deep breath and tried to play volleyball and it was a good result.”

“We attacked with our serve and without siding-out. You know, we didn’t want to do too many shots or easy plays. We were trying to be really aggressive,” April Ross said.

Earlier on Sunday, Germany’s fourth seeds Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst bounced back from a disappointing 2-0 (21-15, 21-10) defeat to Ross/Walsh in the semifinals to beat country women Kartin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler 21-15 and 21-19 for the bronze medal. It was also Ludwig/Walkenhorst’s third straight podium finish following two silver medals in Sao Paulo and Moscow.

Dropping the opening set without much resistance, Hotlwick/Semmler fought bravely to erase a 14-12 deficit to tie it at 18-all in the second. After a drop shot of Walkenhorst made it 19-18, Holtwick drove a ball long to give Ludwig/Walkenhorst two match points while Walkenhorst converted on the second with a smart short dink.

“In the last match, that was really bad. So we have to surge together and change something and our attitudes. It was a big thing that we are together again,” said Ludwig.

Hotlwick/Semmler, who have lost in both encounters against Ludwig/Walkenhorst in the World Tour, settled for the fourth place.

The double gender Xiamen Grand Slam is the last of a record 10 Grand Slam events on the 2013 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar with FIVB Open events to continue in Phuket, Thailand from October 29 to November 3. —- FIVB

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