The all-Brazilian women’s gold medal match of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour four-star event in Itapema on Sunday will be historic. The closing match of the tournament played at the Meia Praia Beach will either have a popular team ending a five-year partnership at the top of the podium or a first-time champion crowned in the Brazilian sand.
Partners since the start of 2017, Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Lisboa are playing together for a final time in Itapema as they decided to split ahead of the 2022 season. The two are one win away from ending their trajectory as partners win a gold medal around their necks, in which would be their eighth international victory as a team and the second in Itapema, which was the stage of their second title, in 2018.
Their opponents, Taiana Lima and Hegeile ‘Hege’ Almeida are in the middle of a remarkable run in Itapema, having won six of their seven matches since Wednesday’s qualifier. While the 37-year-old Taiana is a World Tour veteran with seven World Tour gold medals under her belt, the 26-year-old Hege is competing internationally for just the second time in her career and will appear in her first final.
The world ranking leaders, Agatha and Duda won a pair of matches on Saturday to set up what could be an unforgettable farewell in Itapema. They defeated fellow Brazilians Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitoria Rodrigues 2-0 (25-23, 21-15) in the quarterfinals and repeated the two-set (21-16, 21-17) victory against Americans Terese Cannon and Sara Hughes in the semifinals.
“It’s our last tournament together and to be in the be final here in Brazil is really special”, Agatha, a Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist said. “The Americans are a new team, but we studied their matches and realized we had to serve better than we did on our previous match because their side out is really strong. But I think the key was actually the great energy we had on the court and the amazing support the fans showed in the stands.”
Taiana and Hege also won two matches on Saturday, but they did do downing fellow Brazilians teams on both occasions – they needed all three sets (14-21, 21-19, 15-10) to defeat Elize Maia and Thamela Coradello in the quarterfinals and just two (21-17, 21-19) to overcome Taina Bigi and Victoria Lopes in the semifinals.
“After we won our match in the qualifier, I told Taiana how confident I was feeling,” Hege commented. “The fans have been on our side since the beginning and that has helped a lot. I was nervous on the first matches but as we progressed I felt more comfortable and settled. He played tie-breakers in five of our seven matches but we never gave up, we just kept fighting. I have learned so much from Taiana since we became partners in March and can't thank her and our coaching staff enough.”
Sunday's medal matches will be streamed live on Beach Volleyball World’s YouTube channel.
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour - Itapema
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020