By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian double Alison and Harley claimed silver in the last Grand Slam of the 2009 Beach Volleyball season, in Klagenfurt, Austria. The final was played against U.S. duo Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, current Olympic Champions.
The Americans won the first set by 21/19. In the second set, the Brazilian duo reacted, winning by 12/21. However, in the tiebreaker, the Americans performed better, winning by 15/12.
Despite the loss, Alison and Harley managed to climb one position in the season’s ranking and now lead with 5,120 points. The achievement in Klagenfurt bumped them above former leaders Brink and Reckermann, from Germany, who finished ninth and now have 5,060 points. The German double left Austria very disappointed, as they are the current World Champions and expected more in Klagenfurt.
Harley was nominated the event’s best player, but what he and his partner celebrated most was moving up in the ranking: “We lost to one of the best teams in the world in a very disputed match. We played very well, and it wasn’t easy for them. We give our best in every tournament, as if it was the last, and so far, it’s working. Even though we didn’t win here in Austria, we are fighting for the season leadership,” said his partner Alison after the match.
The Bronze medal went to Reinder Nummerdor and Richard Schuil, from Holland, who defeated Russians Dimitri Barsouk and Igor Kolodinsky by two sets to zero (21/19 and 21/17).
In the female event, Brazil took the gold. Juliana and Larissa defeated U.S. duo Nicole Branagh and Elaine Youngs in the final by two sets to zero (21/12 and 21/15). “The first set was essential for our victory, because we made very few mistakes. That motivated us a lot, and even though we made mistakes in the second set, we corrected the errors quickly to claim the gold. The arena was packed, and it was great winning in Austria,” said Larissa.
Juliana and Larissa are in second position in the ranking, with 4,880 points, behind another Brazilian duo, Maria and Talita, who have 5,040 points.
The bronze medal went to another U.S. team: Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, current World Champions, who defeated the Austrian double Sara Montagnolli and Barbara Hansel by two sets to zero (21/19 and 21/17). The Austrian public was disappointed that the competition’s best Austrian double failed to claim any medals.
The next stop of the Beach Volleyball World Tour will be in Stare Jablonki, Poland. The tournament begins on Thursday, August 6. In the male event, Ricardo/Emanuel, Alison/Harley and Pedro Solberg/Benjamin are already guaranteed. Five other Brazilian doubles will play the Country Quota (preliminary tournament between each country’s doubles) for a chance at an extra spot in the main event: Márcio/Fábio Luiz, Billy/Bruno Schmidt, Franco/Nalbert, Thiago/Jan e Bruno/Magalhães.
In the female event, Juliana/Larissa, Ana Paula/Shelda and Talita/Maria Elisa have already qualified. Three other Brazilian doubles will play the Country Quota: Renata/Val, Maria Clara/Carolina e Ângela/Vivian.