Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 15, 2016 - Over two months ago at the smart Major Hamburg in the European port city, two teams from Brazil competed against Beach Volleyball pairs from Germany and the United States for medals at the SWATCH Major Series event.
On Tuesday, those same four teams will be vying for Olympic glory at the start of the Rio 2016 “Summer” Games medal rounds as Brazilians Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas will play Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany and April Ross/Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States, respectively, in the Copacabana semi-finals.
But in Hamburg, the semi-final match-ups were different as Ludwig and Walkenhorst defeated the Americans and Agatha and Barbara posted a win over their Brazilian rivals to set the scene for the medal matches where the Germans won the gold and Talita/Larissa downed Ross and Walsh Jennings for the third spot on the podium.
With the four women’s quarter-finals being played Sunday and early Monday morning, the Germans and American had easier matches to earn trips to the Rio Olympic “final four” while both Brazil pairs avoided upset bids by teams from Switzerland and Russia.
After Ludwig and Walkenhorst defeated Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada 2-0 (21-14, 21-14) in 35 minutes, Talita and Larissa also survived an upset bid by Joana Heidrich and Nadine Zumkehr of Switzerland with a 2-1 (21-23, 27-25, 15-13) win in 68 minutes that concluded the afternoon session.
Agatha and Barbara, the reigning FIVB world champions, started the late evening session by posting a quarter-final win over Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia 2-0 (23-21, 21-16) in 46 minutes. The Brazilians were down 19-13 to the Russians in the first set, but recovered to win the two sets to avoid the upset.
In the early morning women’s “Elite 8” finale, the crown of more than 8,500 at the “Coliseu on Copacabana” sang happy birthday to three-time American Olympic gold medal winner Kerri Walsh Jennings after she and April Ross posted a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) win in 40 minutes over Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy of Australia.