The No. 1 qualifier seed Chantal Laboreur and Julia Sude of Germany came through to win gold Saturday at the Swatch Major series stop in Porec, Croatia, 21-19, 21-18 over No. 4 Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley of Canada.
The men’s finish up Sunday.
“It is a dream come true,” said Laboreur, in a FIVB interview. “We played our best today against two teams headed to the Olympics. We have worked very hard the past several years to position ourselves as one of the best teams in the world. All our hard work and training paid off today as we defeated two very good teams. No one expects a qualifying team to win an event, and today we did.”
“I am very disappointed,” said Pavan, the former Nebraska star. “I think we really played well throughout the whole tournament. In the final we did not play at the same level. So it’s tough. But there’s always room for improvement and you know, we want get on top of that podium.”
In their first semifinal, Laboreur/Sude dispatched fellow Germans Karla Borger/Britta Buthe 21-19, 22-20. In the second semifinal, No. 2 Sarah Pavan/Heather Bansley of Canada dismissed No. 2 Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst of Germany 21-17, 21-15. Ludwig/Walkenhorst of Germany had been the hottest team on the planet, having won 17 in a row on the FIVB tour; 24 including the European championships.
Borger/Buthe rebounded to win bronze over compatriots Ludwig/Walkenhorst 21-17, 21-15.
On the men’s side, No. 3 Phil Dalhausser/Nick Lucena overcame fellow Americans Tri Bourne/John Hyden i 13-21, 22-20, 15-10, but failed to reach the semifinals in a loss to No. 6 Chaim Schalk/Ben Saxton 25-23, 21-17 to finish fifth.
No. 4 Jake Gibb/Casey Patterson beat No. 7 Bartosz Losiak/Piotr Kantor of Poland 21-15, 21-15, but were then eliminated by No. 5 Aleksandrs Samoilovs/Janis Smedins (Latvia) 21-18, 21-16 to also finish fifth.
In the most anticipated round-of-16 match, No. 1 Alison Cerutti/Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil edged No. 2 Alexander Brouwer/Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands 21-19, 24-22. Cerutti/Schmidt would go on to reach the semifinals. The final semifinal spot was claimed by Clemens Doppler and Alexander Horst of Austria, who needed three tough sets to get by Gustavo Carvalhaes/Saymon Barbosa of Brazil 18-21, 21-14, 20-18.
Sunday’s matchups have Doppler/Horst playing Schalk/Saxton, and Samoilovs/Smedins facing Cerutti/Oscar Schmidt.
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