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Brazilians Carol and Barbara are the winners of the Tlaxcala Challenge

After some years away from the top of the podium in international beach volleyball, Brazilians Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado won the first-ever Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event on Sunday, a Challenge tournament in Tlaxcala, Mexico.

Partners since 2021, the 35-year-old Barbara, a silver medallist at the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the 34-year-old Carol dominated young Dutch Olympians Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam to a straight-set (21-19, 21-18) gold medal match victory at a sold-out Plaza de la Constitucion.

Barbara/Carol Highlights vs. Stam/Schoon

"Being very honest, I don't think we played our best volleyball at this tournament," Carol said. "We made too many mistakes and struggled a little bit with the altitude. But to see that we still managed to win although there was a lot going on against us makes me very happy. We had a lot of patience and helped each other when things weren't going our way. To be able to pull off a win at this level when we're not at our best is such a valuable learning experience. I'm sure we'll be a lot stronger going forward."

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Barbara’s last international beach volleyball victory took place in May 2018, when former partner Fernanda Berti and her triumphed in Huntington Beach. Carol’s wait to return to the top of the podium was even longer as she had last taken a gold medal home in August 2017, when she won in The Hague with Maria Elisa Antonelli.

The two, who combine for more than 250 appearances and 50 international medals in their careers, had a nearly perfect week in Tlaxcala, winning all of their six matches and dropping just three sets along the way. Barbara now has eight golds, eight silver and eight bronzes while Carol has taken home four golds, 13 silver and ten bronzes in her 18-year international career.

"It's funny that last season, we came to Mexico to play three events in Cancun at about the same time of the year, and it wasn't a good experience for us," Barbara added. "We still didn't have an identity as a team but we kept working and remained confident that we would improve. It's crazy to think that we're back in Mexico less than a year later and have just won a gold medal. It's like going from hell to heaven in such a short period of time. Our coaches and us don't take it for granted and it's great to see that now our team has a face and that we're going through a very beautiful path."

The reigning Brazilian champions showed an excellent game in the final, keeping the reigning European vice-champions under control with Carol’s solid blocking, which generated five points, and Barbara’s efficiency in defence and in transition.

Gold Medal Match

Carol's blocking was a factor in the final, generating five points for the Brazilians

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Men's and women's medallists pose at the iconic venue in Tlaxcala

Brazil occupied an additional spot on the podium with Elize Maia and Thamela Coradello, who prevailed over compatriots Taiana Lima and Hegeile ‘Hege’ Santos in the three-set (18-21, 21-17, 15-9) bronze medal match.

Elize Maia/Thamela Highlights vs. Taiana Lima/Hegeile

It was the second international medal for the 37-year-old Elize and the 21-year-old Thamela, who took gold in an FIVB World Tour two-star tournament in Prague last August.

“Taking bronze here means a lot more than just winning a medal for us,” Elize reflected. “I see it as a reward for all the hard work and all the love I have for beach volleyball. Competing internationally is not easy. I left my two-year-old daughter back in Brazil to come here and play, so winning a medal is extremely meaningful. And it also gives us the confidence we can go for more.”

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Elize celebrates a point during the all-Brazilian bronze medal match in Mexico

The Beach Pro Tour remains in Mexico for another week as the competition's first-ever Elite 16 tournament is set to take place in Rosarito from March 23-27.