uRio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 21-2017 - The “new” alliance between Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa has quickly produced dividends on the FIVB World Tour as the first-season partnership has netted medals in their first two international Beach Volleyball events highlighted by a podium-topping performance here Sunday in the women’s finale at the US$300,000 Rio Open.
With their 2-1 (21-14, 13-21 and 15-13) win in 50 minutes over 11th-seeded Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada, the fourth-seeded Agatha and Duda bettered their finish from their first FIVB World Tour this past February in the United States when the Brazilians placed second in the Fort Lauderdale Major in south Florida.
Canadian Melissa Humana-Paredes (right) hitting against Eduarda "Duda" Lisboa of Brazil in the Rio Open gold medal match.
After each team split the opening two sets, Agatha and Duda jumped to a 7-4 lead in the deciding set before the Canadians rallied with a five-point spurt to take a 9-7 lead. The Brazilians fought back to tie it at 9s, 11s and 12s with Agatha and Duda gaining a 13-12 lead at the final side switch. After Humana-Paredes and Pavan tied the set at 13s, an Agatha kill and block won the gold medal match.
With the win, the Brazilians shared the $20,000 first-place prize while Humana-Paredes and Pavan split $16,000 for their silver medal finish. Like the Agatha and Duda, the Canadians were also playing in their second FIVB World Tour event together as the Rio Open was their first appearance as a team in a “points” tournament after playing initially in a country quota match last September at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto.
“I am excited for our team as our expectations are high for each event,” said the 33-year old Agatha, who individually captured her fifth FIVB World Tour gold medal since starting her international Beach Volleyball career 12 years ago this weekend in May 2005 with the legendary Sandra Pires at an event in Shanghai.
“Duda is an amazing talent and our partnership continues to improve with each match,” added Agatha, who captured the silver medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with Barbara Seixas. “She is only 18 and the sky is the limit for her. So far, so good. Each event is different, so the key is playing consistently well with very few mistakes.”
The gold medal Sunday was Duda’s third tournament title in 17 FIVB World Tour events as she topped international podiums twice last season at Brazilians stops in Maceio and Fortaleza with Elize Maia. Duda has also claimed five FIVB youth championships with four different partners, including the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic gold medal with Ana Patricia Silva.
In addition to their 11-2 FIVB World Tour match mark highlighted by a three-set quarter-final win over Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medal winners April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings at the Fort Lauder Major, Agatha and Duda topped Brazilian domestic podiums in João Pessoa and at the Super Praia in Niteroi this season along with finishing second to compatriots Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca twice in Maceio and Aracaju.
Pavan is now 0-4 in FIVB gold medal matches with the first two setbacks to Brazilian teams with Heather Bansley at 2015 FIVB World Tour stops in the Czech Republic and Croatia. In 2016, Pavan and Bansley finished second to eventual Rio 2016 Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in Croatia. Humana-Paredes was competing in her first-ever World Tour “final four” in 31 international starts.
In the bronze medal match, a team from the Czech Republic captured their first-ever men’s or women’s podium placement at a FIVB stop in Brazil as seventh-seeded Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova posted a 2-0 (23-21, 21-18) win in 46 minutes over fifth-seeded Fernanda Alves and Barbara Seixas of Brazil.
Czech Republic's Marketa Slukova (left) Barbora Hermannova after winning the Rio Open bronze medal
In sharing the $10,000 third-place prize, Hermannova and Slukova netted their second FIVB World Tour medal with the first being a podium-topping performance at an October 2015 event in Turkey. Fernanda and Barbara, who ousted Talita and Larissa in a Rio Open quarter-final match Saturday morning, split $8,000 for fourth-place.
Barbora Hermannova (left) and Marketa Slukova (center) of the Czech Republic against Brazilian Fernanda Alves in the Rio Open bronze medal match.
The next stop on the FIVB World Tour calendar will be May 31-June 4 in Moscow for a three-star event in the Russian capital. Highlighting the 2017 international calendar for men and women Beach Volleyball players will be the $1-million FIVB World Championships July 28 through August 6 in Austria and the $800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals August 23-27 in Hamburg, Germany.
The Rio Open women's podium featured (left to right) Humana-Paredes, Pavan, Agatha, Duda, Hermannova and Marketa Slukova