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2015-10-03 18:30:00 CEST

USA survives Semis to face Brazil on epic gold medal Sunday

In Sunday’s gold medal matches at the prestige tournament of the FIVB World Tour, the USA will face Brazilian men, and Brazilian women will try to topple a stellar team from Germany. After the explosive action of Saturday’s Semifinals, the medal clashes will be unmissable.

The enormous crowds packing the Center Court grandstands were on their feet at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals on Saturday, and not just to soak up the water spray blasting to cool them on a sun-soaked afternoon. They were chanting the battle cry of the Florida State Seminoles, the alma mater of Nick Lucena, to urge their local hero and his partner, former World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Phil Dalhausser, to a Semifinal win against 2013 World Champions Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands. The fans got their wish, but it wasn’t easy. Dalhausser and Lucena needed three sets to defeat the Dutchmen (21-18, 19-21, 15-12) and take a perfect record into Sunday’s gold medal match, where they’ll play more World Champions – the reigning ones – from Brazil.

“I think that’s the most fun I’ve ever had in a competition, it was like a chess match playing them and the energy from the crowd was unbelievable,” said Dalhausser as the crowd roared.

Photocredit: Andreas LangreiterPhotocredit: Andreas Langreiter

Earlier, an all-Brazil Semifinal of Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt versus Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg riveted South American fans. The winners, those current World Championship titleholders Alison and Bruno, will be looking for vengeance when they challenge Dalhausser and Lucena for gold, after losing to the Americans previously in the week. Evandro and Pedro Solberg will vie with Brouwer and Meeuwsen for the bronze.

In the women’s Semifinals, the dynamic German team of Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst were a nightmare that wouldn’t go away for Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, covering every centimeter of the court in defeating the Brazilian World Champions for the second time in two days. The Germans now advance to Sunday’s golden opportunity.

Photocredit: Joerg Mitter Photocredit: Joerg Mitter

“We knew that Brazil would throw some new strategies at us today, and they put a lot of pressure on us in the second set,“ said Ludwig, one of the most animated players on the FIVB World Tour. “But we were there to answer them, and now we’ll go for the win!“

Brazilian women still have a chance for gold thanks to a win by Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca in their Semifinal against Canada’s Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan. The women’s gold medal match will mark the third time Larissa and Talita have played Ludwig and Walkenhorst in 2015, with the Germans winning the previous two bouts. The Canadians will play Agatha and Barbara for bronze.

Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter Photocredit: Andreas Langreiter