Challenge - Saquarema, BRA - 2024 - Beach Pro Tour 2024 season - News


Andre and George celebrate a point scored against the Cubans in thed gold medal match

Playing at home has been a huge advantage for Andre Loyola and George Wanderley in the last few years and the Brazilians proved it again on Sunday with their victory at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event held in Saquarema – the two were flanked by Cubans Noslen Diaz and Jorge Alayo and French Julien Lyneel and Remi Bassereau at the podium.

The women’s tournament at the Campo de Aviação ended with China’s Chen Xue/Xinyi Xia in first place, Germany’s Laura Ludwig/Louisa Lippman in second and Brazil’s Talita Antunes/Taiana Lima in third.

  • Watch the Saquarema Challenge matches on demand on VBTV.

To secure their first title in the season, Andre, 29, and George, 27, recovered from an opening-match upset to Swiss Marco Krattiger and Florian Breer on Friday, winning six consecutive matches, the last of which a 2-1 (21-18, 17-21, 19-17) victory over Diaz and Alayo in the gold medal match, to take the title in front of their home fans.

"We knew it was going to be a tough match against the Cubans," George said. "They were coming from another final in Recife and are a really good team. The fans were amazing and really pushed us to win. It was beautiful."

The victory in Saquarema was the fifth obtained by the two in international events held in Brazil since 2021 – they played eight tournaments in their country in the period. Partners since 2019, Andre and George won at least one Brazilian event in each of the last four seasons.

By defeating the Cubans, who also took silver at last week’s Recife Challenge, Andre and George further improve their chances of representing Brazil at this year’s Paris Olympics – they entered the event in third place in the FIVB Provisional Olympic Rankings with 8,840 points and will add part of the 800 points they amassed in Saquarema to their total.

To win bronze, Lyneel and Bassereau needed all three sets (21-15, 16-21, 15-12) to overcome Austrians Martin Ermacora and Philipp Waller in Saquarema. It was the first Beach Pro Tour medal won by the French, who moved to the sand from indoor volleyball in 2022.

**Saquarema Challenge – Final Results**

Xue and Xia win in Brazil again

The women’s winners, Chinese Xue and Xia apparently feel at home in Brazil as well. Coached by a Brazilian, Ricardo de Freitas, who led Ágatha Bednarczuk and Bárbara Seixas to an Olympic medal and a world title, the Asians triumphed at last year’s Itapema Challenge to celebrate the first title after their reunion in 2023.

Xue, a Beijing 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, and Xia, a Tokyo Olympian, started behind in the gold medal match in Saquarema, but came back to beat Ludwig and Lippmann 2-1 (23-25, 24-22, 15-11) and secure the title.

The Chinese are in a solid position to qualify for the Paris Games, having entered this week’s event in sixth place in the FIVB Provisional Olympic Rankings with 8,600 points, and could move up following the Saquarema Challenge.

"We're very happy with this result," Xue remarked. "We still need some more points to qualify for the Olympics and the 800 points we got here will be of great help. We're enjoying the experience of being coached by Rico and his staff. There are big cultural differences between Brazilians and Chinese, but their integration was very smooth and we like it very much."

women's podium 3103

Teams from China, Germany and hosts Brazil made it to the podium in Saquarema

Brazilian veterans Talita and Taiana earned the first medal since their most recent union by downing compatriots Hegeile ‘Hege’ Almeida and Vitoria Rodrigues 2-1 (21-16, 18-21, 15-9) in the bronze medal match in Saquarema.

Talita, 41, and Taiana, 39, have had multiple stints as partners in the last decade and won their 11th medal (six gold, three silver, two bronze) in 36 tournaments.

Next week, the Beach Pro Tour will have a men-only event in Pirae Tahiti, French Polynesia, from April 3-6. The next Challenge tournament of the season is set to take place in Guadalajara, Mexico, from April 11-14.

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