Moscow, Russia, August 18, 2019 – Joana Heidrich & Anouk Verge-Depre are the new champions of the Moscow four-star event on the 2019 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. The 15th-seeded Swiss pair won the women’s final at the Luzhniki centre court to claim the gold, their first on the Tour as a pair so far. The 2016 Olympians also have two World Tour silver medals to their name. This was also Switzerland’s first women’s gold from such a high-level tournament since 2016. Heidrich also received an individual award for tournament’s best server.
17th-seeded Brazilians Taiana Lima & Talita Da Rocha Antunes had to settle for the silver, their first World Tour medal since they reunited for the 2019 season. They also won five gold, two silver and one bronze podium finishes in their first period together, 2013-2014. Interestingly, the team’s last medal was earned at the 2014 Moscow Grand Slam. Taiana Lina was honoured as the best defender of the tournament.
The bronze medal went to 10th-seeded Americans Brooke Sweat & Kerri Walsh Jennings. This is the third bronze and overall fifth World Tour medal for them since three-time Olympic champion and four-time Olympic medallist Walsh and 2016 Olympian Sweat teamed up last October. Kerri Walsh received two individual awards in Moscow – for best blocker and for fair play.
The women’s podium at Moscow
The first set of the gold medal match offered a fierce battle for every point. Heidrich & Verge-Depre were the first the open up a three-point gap at 16-13, but Taiana Lima & Talita fought back to level it at 18-18. The Swiss reacted with three in a row as Heidrich slammed the ball to close the set at 21-18. The Brazilians stormed into the second set on a 5-1 run. Heidrich & Verge-Depre stepped up their efforts trying to wipe out the deficit, but all they could do is get back within one point for a moment. The South American players stayed focused and built nicely to a 21-16 win to level the match. The deciding set started better for Taiana Lima & Talita, but the European duo quickly came back not only to catch up on the scoreboard, but also to establish total control on the court throughout the second half of the set and cruise to a 2-1 (21-18, 16-21, 15-8) triumph.
“It was a long week, we played a lot of games and we didn’t feel really fresh, but we were so happy to play in this final and we wanted to give everything we have. I think we did that. They played great too, but in the end we played a little bit better,” commented Joana Heidrich.
“We just kept saying we need to stay calm, stay focused on the game and put any drop of energy that we still have into every single point. We kept believing and I think that was the key,” Anouk Verge-Depre added. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all the people who work with us. I think it’s very important. We had a rough start of the season, but there are a lot of people behind us, who are giving everything to make this possible.”
In the first set of the bronze medal match, the lead swung back and forth. First, Sweat & Walsh Jennings ran off with a four-point advantage, then their opponents, 14th-seeded Germans Karla Borger & Julia Sude, caught up and went two ahead. In turn, the Americans regained control with a two-point lead before the Germans levelled it back at 19-19 to prompt an exciting ending. The two teams kept denying each other’s set points until Sude hammered the ball for a 26-24 close. Sweat & Walsh Jennings broke away with an 8-4 lead in the second set. Borger & Sude tried fighting back, but to no avail, as the Americans kept pace towards a 21-18 win. In the tie-breaker, Sweat & Walsh Jennings scored five in a row to turn a two-point deficit to an 8-5 advantage and never looked back – 2-1 (24-26, 21-18, 15-10).
“It was an important victory for us,” said Walsh after the match. “We’ve played Karla and Julia three times this year and we’ve been successful all three now. We knew they were going to change something and come out aggressively, because we all want to go to Tokyo. For us it was important to finish third so we can pull away from the other Americans and we feel proud to have beat such a good team.”
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