Australian surprise team wins women’s Sydney gold
It was a close match between Australia and the U.S. in the women’s gold medal match of the FIVB 3-star in Sydney. But in the end, Australian surpise team Nicole Laird and Becchara Palmer beat Betsi Flint and Emily Day in three sets (21:19, 16:21, 15:13). For the Aussies, it was only for the second time that they apperared together on the FIVB World Tour. Coming through the qualification, they delighted the local crowd at Manly Beach. Nicole Laird:
“It is just like a dream. We felt everybody’s support. There is no better place to play beach volleyball than Manly Beach. “
In the semifinal, Nicole Laird and Becchara Palmer had beaten three-time Olympic champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat in another three-set match (21:18, 18:21, 15:12). Coming up with early leads in all three sets, the Aussies managed to make it into the gold medal match in front of their home crowd.
The second semifinal was dominated from the start by Americans Betsi Flint and Emily Day against Chinese pair Wang/X.Y. Xia. The Americans who had beaten number 2 seeds Borger/Sude (Germany) in the quarterfinals, forced the Chinese into early time-outs in both sets. After winning the first set (21:18), they had an easy run in the second (21:16). Looking ahead to the final, the Americans knew they were heading into a tough match:
“It will be hard to play an Australian team here on that court.”
Bronze also went to the U.S. after Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat beat Wang/X.Y. Xia in the bronze medal match (21:19, 21:19).
On the men’s side, Chilean brothers Marco and Esteban Grimalt claimed gold with a two-set win over Enrico Rossi and Adrian “Mr. Skyball” Carambula from Italy (21:18, 21:12). It is the Chileans fourth medal at the World Tour. Esteban Grimalt:
“We knew there’s a big Chilean community here in Sydney. So they made a big announcement on social media that we are competing here. We felt like locals in the end. We played with a good atmosphere from start to finish.”
The Italians Rossi/Carambula had beaten Americans Stafford Slick and Billy Allen in the semifinals. Slick/Allen claimed bronze for the U.S. against Youssef Krou and Edouard Rowlandson. The French had to concede the bronze medal match after Krou had suffered a shoulder dislocation in the semifinal.