Maceió, Brazil, February 28, 2016 - The prospects of host Brazil women’s gold medal appeared dim after the country’s top four teams were eliminated from gold medal contention prior to Sunday’s medal matches at the $150,000 Maceió Open.
But, Eduarda “Duda” Lisboa and Elize Maia came to the rescue after the first-, second-, fourth- and ninth-seeded host country were eliminated leaving only the 22nd-seeded Brazilians the opportunity to win the South American countries’ 149th women gold medal on the FIVB World Tour since the start of play in 1992.
In becoming the 23rd women’s team from Brazil to win a gold medal, Duda and Elize Maia thoroughly dominated fifth-seeded Madelein Meppelink and Marleen Van Iersel of The Netherlands with a 2-0 (21-10, 21-13) gold medal win in 33 minutes.
“I am so happy,” said the 31-year old Eliza Maia with her first-ever gold medal in 13 FIVB World Tour events. “This is one of the biggest days in my life, if not the best. We played so well all week and Duda was sensational throughout the tournament.”
Including a qualifying match Tuesday, Duda and Eliza Maia won eight matches in the Maceió Open with each victory in two sets. “Wow, what a team,” said a dejected Meppelink as she was leaving the court after the gold medal match. “They played great and we struggled.”
The Maceió Open is the fifth FIVB World tour event for Duda and Eliza Maia as the pair claimed a bronze medal last May in Prague before placing second to a German team at October’s Mexican FIVB stop in Puerto Vallarta. The pair also has a fifth and ninth to their credit since first playing last May in a Swiss Open in Lucerne.YOUTH CHAMPION
At 17 years, six months, Duda became the third youngest men’s or women’s player to win a FIVB World Tour gold medal. Two Chinese players hold the honor led by two gold medals by Xinyi Xia at the age of 16 years, nine months, 20 days (2013 Phuket, Thailand) and 16 years, 11 months (2013 Durban, South Africa). Chen Xue netted a gold at 17 years, three months (2006 Shanghai, China).
“I am just glad I am competitive with all the great players on the FIVB World Tour,” said Duda, who has won gold medals at FIVB youth world championships (twice) and the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. “My partner really helps me during tough times and I am thankful she is there for me.”
With the victory, the Brazilians shared the $11,000 first-place prize while the Dutch split $8,000 for second-place in the third women’s event on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar. Top-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas, who lost to the Dutch Saturday, captured the bronze medal and the $6,000 third-place check.BRAZIL LEADS 3-1
Sunday’s finale was the first FIVB World Tour meeting between the two teams. Brazil has now won three of four FIVB World Tour women’s gold medal matches versus Dutch pairs as Meppelink has appeared in all four matches. Talita and Larissa, who were seeded second this week and placed ninth, posted gold medal wins over Meppelink and Van Iersel at FIVB Grand Slam stops in Russia (Moscow) and Poland (Olsztyn) last season.
BRONZE MEDAL MATCH
With a 2-0 (21-13, 21-14) win in 39 minutes over 14th-seeded Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug of Argentina, Agatha and Barbara netted 13th FIVB World Tour medal in 34 international starts together. One of the medals was gold at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in The Hague.
The Maceió Open concludes with the men’s medal match where second-seeded Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena of the United States challenge top-seeded Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg of Brazil for the gold medal and the $11,000 first-place prize.
RIO GRAND SLAM NEXT
Following the Maceió Open, the FIVB World Tour will take a week off before resuming competition March 8-13 on famed Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, the first grand slam event on the 2015-2016 international Beach Volleyball calendar with an $800,000 purse.