Beach Volleyball World Championships Tlaxcala 2023 - News

Hughes/Cheng (USA) vs. Nuss/Kloth (USA) - Semifinals #7485150

Smiley Cheng and Hughes pose in a packed Tlaxcala Bullring

For the seventh time in 14 editions of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships and the first since 2011, beach volleyball powerhouses the United States and Brazil will meet in the gold medal match of the event, on Sunday, in Mexico.

Set to start at 16:00 local time (22:00 UTC) at the Tlaxcala Bullring, the decider of the event will reunite Americans Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes and defending champions Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa and Ana Patrícia Ramos of Brazil. Earlier, at 13:15 local time (19:15 UTC), USA’s Taryn Kloth/Kristen Nuss and Australia’s Taliqua Clancy/Mariafe Artacho will meet for bronze.

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The gold medal match in Tlaxcala will be the tie-breaker between the countries when it comes to World Championships finals as each nation has won three of the previous six encounters and also between the two duos, which are even with two triumphs in their four international duels to date. The last final involving South Americans and North Americans was in 2011, when Juliana Felisberta and Larissa França defeated Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor in Rome.

Brazil, with 17 medals (six golds, five silver and six bronze), and the United States, with 11 (four golds, five silver and two bronze), are the top medal-winners among the women at the World Championships. In each of the 14 editions of the event, there was at least one team from one of the two countries at the podium and only once, in 2013, no Brazilians or Americans played in the final.

The all-American semifinal in Tlaxcala was a match full of ups and downs and turnarounds. Cheng and Hughes, who had lost a match in pool play in Mexico, took down the then-undefeated Kloth and Nuss in the tie-breaker (18-21, 21-12, 15-13) to move forward.

“With them, we go into every single match knowing that it’s going to be a dog fight,” Cheng reacted. “They’re an amazing team, but I think we just brought so much fire. I think they snuck that first set because of our errors. Coming back to the second set, we still wanted to be aggressive, but also do hold back a little bit on our unforced errors. Sara did an amazing job pushing me out there and encouraging me to stay up against Kristen. It’s just such a team win and I’m so proud.”

The duel in the semifinals in Tlaxcala marked the sixth time the two teams, who are the heavy favorites to represent the United States at next year’s Paris Olympics, met in 2023. It was the fourth time Cheng and Hughes prevailed over Kloth and Nuss, who had triumphed in the last two encounters.

The 28-year-old Cheng and Hughes, who are in their second stint as partners, continue in great form since they reunited, at the end of 2022. Since they joined forces again, the Americans have won four titles in the 12 Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour events they played, never finishing worse than ninth.

“Coming into the tie-breaker, we were just talking about staying together,” Hughes commented. “If we made an error, it didn’t matter because we had each other’s backs. It was just about coming out aggressive and not letting the ball touch the sand. I think that showed on the third set and it was such a big team win. She got some crucial blocks, I got some big digs and that’s how we won the match. It was our first time in the Bullring and the crowd’s energy was so amazing. We can’t wait to feel it again in the final.”

Beach Volleyball World Championships - Match Schedule and Results

Ana Patrícia/Duda (BRA) vs. Stam/Schoon (NED) - Semifinals #7169404

Duda and partner Ana Patrícia will try to become the third team to successfully defend their world title

In the match that ended the day at the Tlaxcala Bullring, Duda and Ana Patrícia continued their strong run to their second-straight world title, claiming their sixth two-set victory in the tournament, downing Tokyo Olympic silver medalists Clancy and Mariafe 2-0 (21-17, 21-14).

“I think the keys today were using our serves to limit the damage Clancy could do with her second ball and keeping our side out steady,” an emotional Duda said after their semifinal victory. “It’s been a really difficult week for me because my grandmother passed away a few days ago. I’m trying to stay positive on the court and Ana Patrícia has been helping me a lot. I would like to dedicate this final to her and am very excited to play the Americans tomorrow in front of this amazing crowd.”

If they take the title in Mexico on Sunday, the Brazilians will become just the third team to win back-to-back editions of the tournament, joining compatriots Adriana Behar and Shelda Bede, who were champions in 1999 and 2001, and Americans Walsh Jennings and May-Treanor, who won three straight editions from 2003 to 2009. If they managed to sweep Cheng and Hughes in the final, the Brazilians would be the first team since 2007 to take the title without dropping sets.

“We'll rest and prepare to face the Americans,” Ana Patrícia added. “We've played them quite a few times already and we know that they're very strong and tactically disciplined. Their defensive system is very good but we'll try to find a way to overcome them and try to get on the court and play our best.”

Besides the senior world title won last year in Rome, Duda and Ana Patrícia also won two world titles in the U21 age group, in 2016 and 2017.

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