Three teams that started the 2023 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour La Paz Challenge in the qualifiers have made it to the last day of competition in Mexico and will fight for medals when the tournament comes to an end on Sunday.
Three qualifiers among La Paz Challenge women’s semifinalists
Tainá/Victoria, Simo/Rodriguez and Ronja Klinger/Dorina Klinger will play for medals on Sunday – watch live on VBTV
Published 03:42, 19 Mar 2023
Brazil’s Tainá Bigi/Victoria Lopes, USA’s Savvy Simo/Toni Rodriguez and Austria’s Ronja Klinger/Dorina Klinger will join second-seeded Americans Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss in the medal rounds of the event held at the Mexican West Coast and will look for their first medals in a Beach Pro Tour Challenge tournament.
The Austrians and Simo/Rodriguez will meet in the first semifinal, set to start at 10:00 local time (17:00 UTC), with the Brazilians and Kloth/Nuss colliding for the second spot in the gold medal match one hour later.
Tainá, 27, and Victoria, 23, dropped only one set in their campaign at the La Paz Challenge so far and had two more strong displays on Saturday, beating much more experienced teams on their way to the semifinals. The two topped Germans Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) in the Round of 16 and prevailed in the all-Brazilian quarterfinal duel with Talita Antunes and Thamela Coradello, winning in two sets (23-21, 21-19).
“We’re very happy that we got to make it this far,” Tainá told Volleyball World. “We came from the qualifier and before that played in a tough Brazilian Tour event last weekend, so we’re really tired. Our concentration has been key for us and I think we did a very good job of slowing the pace of the match when we needed it.”
The Brazilians will be looking for their first Beach Pro Tour medals on Sunday after having played in ten events in 2022 and finished ninth on four occasions.
“It’s our first semifinal in the Beach Pro Tour and we want to go for more tomorrow and step at the top of the podium,” Tainá added.
The 25-year-old Kloth and Nuss are the only semifinalists with Beach Pro Tour Challenge medals in their resumes as the two won last year’s event in Kuşadası – the Americans also took gold at the Coolangatta Futures.
The two were strongly challenged on Saturday, having to win a pair of three-setters to make it to the semifinals. The Americans defeated Lithuania’s Monika Paulikiene and Aine Raupelyte 21-19, 20-22, 15-9 in the Round of 16 and topped France’s Alexia Richard/Lézana Placette also 2-1 (25-27, 21-18, 15-9).
The other semifinal of the La Paz Challenge will reunite two teams that started the tournament on Thursday’s qualifier and continued to progress in the Mexican tournament for a third-straight day.
Americans Simo and Rodriguez are now on a six-match winning streak that took them from the qualifier all the way to the semifinals. On Saturday, the two needed three sets (16-21, 21-17, 15-9) to dispatch the home team of Abril Flores and Atenas Gutierrez in the Round of 16 and another two (21-15, 21-13) to overcome Czechs Barbora Hermannová and Marie-Sara Stochlova in the quarterfinals.
Simo, 24, and Rodriguez, 26, are playing in only their second Beach Pro Tour events as partners, having failed to advance from the qualifier at the Doha Elite16 in February. In 2022, while Rodriguez recovered from knee surgery, Simo played six Beach Pro Tour events with five different partners and won gold at the Balikesir Futures with Megan Kraft.
The Klinger sisters Ronja, 22, and Dorina, 25, have also already secured their best result at a Beach Pro Tour event at the Challenge level, improving from ninth-place finishes in Espinho and Sun Island last year.
The Austrians, who won gold at the Ios Futures in 2022, overcame a pair of American teams on their way to the semifinals in La Paz. If their Round of 16 three-set (15-21, 21-17, 15-13) victory over Megan Kraft and Emily Stockman was dramatic, their sweep (21-16, 21-16) of 2022 Beach Pro Tour winners Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes in the quarterfinals was arguably the most shocking result of the tournament so far.
While the semifinals are set to take place in the morning, the La Paz Challenge medal matches will be held in the afternoon, with the contest for bronze beginning at 15:00 local time (22:00 UTC) and the final starting one hour later.