Montreux, Switzerland, June 10, 2017- Germany and Brazil will contest the 2017 Montreux Volley Masters final after they prevailed in two dramatic semi-final ties against Argentina and holders China respectively, ending the title defence of the Olympic gold medallists and ensuring a new champion will be crowned on Sunday. This came after the Netherlands and Poland rounded off their campaigns in fine fashion, following victories in their classification ties.
First up on court at Salle Omnsiports Pierrier for the four-match Super Saturday line-up, who contested the 2016 silver-medallists Thailand. The Dutch had just come up short in the pools, losing their first two matches by tie-breaks before finding their feet against the Swiss to round off the group with a win, and they continued that momentum here, Celeste Plak and Marrit Jasper the aces in the hole, hitting a combined 17 points to put the Thais to the sword and end a campaign which has been something of a work in progress with an encouraging 3-1 (25-22, 25-18, 22-25, 25-8) win.
Another team perhaps unfortunate to have not progressed to the final four were Poland, who contested their classification tie with Switzerland having been foiled in their efforts to escape the pools thanks to Brazil’s victory over Thailand on Friday. Eager to end their own tournament on a high note, the Poles made no mistake in their game with the Swiss, Malwina Smarzek and Agnieszka Kakolewska- who have been in fine form in Montreux- on song as they comfortably ran out 3-0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-16) winners over their hosts.
Now for the main event: the semi-final curtain-raiser saw Germany in action against Argentina, Guillermo Orduna’s side the only team still unbeaten at the 2017 tournament. It was a mental battle just as much as physical, and so it proved as the game was won in the finer details. In the end, it was the presence of Louisa Lippmann and Jennifer Geerties who swung the pendulum the way of the Germans, their 38 points propelling the Europeans into the final despite going behind in an exhilarating contest. Both sides showed their attacking prowess as well as their muscle in defence, with a succession of great pieces of attacking play amongst eight blocks for either team, the semi-final opening up into a battle between the efficiency of Germany’s quartet of Lippmann, Geerties, Maren Brinker and Marie Scholzel, and the dynamism of Argentina’s quarter of Paula Nizetich, Elina Rodríguez, Lucia Fresco and Emilce Sosa. It was a humdinger of a game, with four competitive sets played out in a match which culminated in a 3-1 (27-25, 19-25, 25-27, 19-25) win for Germany, the height and presence of Leonie Schwertmann turning the tide decisively for Germany in the final set, allowing Brinker to rubber-stamp their place in the final with an ice-cold touch over the net.
Brazil’s semi-final had far more than a shot at gold stake. Their defeat to China at the 2016 Olympics in Rio was still very much in the minds of the Seleção players going into the tie, and an opportunity for revenge was on the table. They won the physical and psychological battle and settled the score with a display of radiance, dismantling the defending champions in a monumental 3-1 (25-17, 25-22, 27-29, 25-16) win to march into Sunday’s final. China weren’t at the races, but that can take nothing away from a sterling showing from the South Americans. Tandara Caixeta and Rosamaria Montibeller picked away at the Chinese throughout, whilst Adenizia Da Silva also put in an outstanding performance, capped off with a coolly dispatched match-point to knock out An Jiajie’s side and wrap up roughly ten hours of volleyball. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but this was different. It was an easy on the eye, swashbuckling performance, the Brazilians playing with a verve and swagger that resembled moving to a swift samba beat. In truth, they eased to victory, and even when frustrated three times at match-point before losing the third set, they refused to be outdone, Adenizia and Ana Carolina Da Silva instrumental in the crucial fourth set, and helping their nation earn the well-deserved reward of a place in the final.
The event that will bring the curtain down on another fantastic year at the Montreux Masters will be another opportunity for Brazil to settle an earlier score, having slipped to defeat at the hands of Germany back in the pool phase. But that defeat will count for little on evidence of both performances from the semi-finalists, and an enthralling finale is sure to follow as Montreux waits expectantly to see which of the two nations will be crowned its latest champion.
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