Carol Barbara

Carol and Barbara celebrate a point in their all-Brazilian semifinal against Taiana and Hege

The gold medal match of the first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Tlaxcala, Mexico, will reunite teams of different generations as Brazilian veterans Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado have advanced to meet the young Dutch duo of Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam on Sunday at the Plaza de la Constitucion.

The 35-year-old Barbara, a Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist, and the 34-year-old Carol form one of the most experienced duos in international beach volleyball as they both started playing 15 years ago and have more than 250 events between them.

Schoon, 20, and Stam, 23, are, on the other hand, one of the fastest-rising teams on the international scene as the Dutch, who have been partners in just ten international events, became the youngest duo to qualify for the Olympics last year, when they finished 17th in Tokyo.

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Barbara and Carol faced several familiar opponents on their way to appearing in their first international gold medal match as partners. The veterans have now won all of their five matches in Tlaxcala and four of them were against compatriots – they have defeated each Brazilian team that played in the main draw in Tlaxcala.

They started the Saturday with a 2-1 (19-21, 22-20, 15-13) quarterfinal victory against Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitoria Rodrigues and secured another three-set (21-15, 17-21, 15-13) win in the semifinals, against Taiana Lima and Hegeile ‘Hege’ Santos.

Barbara/Carol Highlights vs. Taiana Lima/Hegeile

“It’s always hard when we play another Brazilian team,” Carol, who registered four aces in the semifinal, commented. “Taiana and Hege are a great team and we could tell how much they wanted to make it to the final. Every play made the difference and we’re happy that we were in great physical shape to win another three-setter. We’re happy to see them and other Brazilian teams making good runs here because we know very well how hard all of us work.”

Partners since the 2021 season, Barbara and Carol will play for their first international gold medal as a team. The two, who have won a few events on the Brazilian Tour, have a bronze in Ostrava as their best international result so far.

Schoon and Stam, who took silver at last year’s European Championship, will also be playing for their first international gold medal as a team. In ten tournaments together, they have a fifth in Ostrava as their best result.

Schoon and Stam

Stam hits to an open net during the semifinal

The Europeans won two more matches on Saturday and also enter the gold medal match with a perfect record of five victories. They needed all three sets (18-21, 21-12, 15-11) to handle Americans April Ross, a Tokyo Olympic champion, and Emily Day in the quarterfinals, before prevailing over Brazilians Elize Maia and Thamela Coradello in two (21-14, 21-15).

“I think the key to our victory in the semifinal was to play our own game,” Stam, who had two blocks against the Brazilians, commented. “We had a lot of fun on the court and remained confident the entire time. We really played as a team, had a good plan for the match and it worked. We need to do the same tomorrow in the final.”

Stam/Schoon Highlights vs. Elize Maia/Thamela

The all-Brazilian bronze medal match in Tlaxcala is set to start at 11.45 local time, while the first serve of the gold medal match will take place at 14.30.