Switzerland's 12th-seeded duo Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre came out swinging in their 21-19, 21-15 bronze medal victory over Latvia's Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka in Tokyo's Shiokaze Park Saturday at the Olympics.
The Swiss had plenty to prove following their semifinal straight sets defeat to the United States, but the Latvian team -- underdogs seeded 16th -- also fought hard for every possible point.
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Tied at 8-8, Switzerland managed to rip open a 13-9 lead around the first set's 11-minute mark. The Latvians battled back to 13-14, but after a timeout, the Swiss returned to form. Heidrich and Verge-Depre capitalized on the holes in Graudina and Kravcenoka's defense, as well as the Latvians' errors. Despite some visible nerves to close, the Swiss took the advantage on the third set point when their opponents flung a ball straight into the net.
Latvia lost confidence in the second set, where the Swiss duo kicked off with a 5-1 lead. Heidrich and Verge-Depre continued to dominate by a wide margin, but again struggled to close the deal at 20-12. They ultimately won the second set -- and match -- by a six-point margin on their third match point.
The partners screamed, fell to their knees, and embraced.
At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Heidrich and Verge-Depre competed with different partners. Heidrich lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals, while Verge-Depre fell to eventual gold medalists Germany.
They may not have won gold, but the Swiss team certainly redeemed themselves in Tokyo. The victory marked Switzerland's first-ever bronze medal in beach volleyball.