|Porto Santo, Portugal, September 18, 2004 - With veteran U-21 player Taiana Lima as her partner, Carolina Solberg Salgado "finally" won a FIVB "Under-Something" title as the young Brazilians defeated Marion Castelli and Eva Hamzaoui of France here Sunday in the gold medal match of the fourth annual FIVB World Championships for players under 21 years old.
The second-seeded Lima and Solberg Salgado scored a 21-11 and 21-12 victory in 29 minutes over the 19th-seeded Castelli and Hamzaoui. For Lima, it was her second FIVB U-21 World Championship gold medal after winning the title in 2002 with Juliana Felisberta Silva in Italy.
"I glad to finally be standing atop of the podium at one of these FIVB events," said Solberg Salgado, who finished second last Sunday in the women's FIVB U-18 world Championships with Barbara Figueirado in Termoli, Italy. "We played very well in the finals and never gave the French a chance to get any rhythm going. We made very few mistakes and Taiana was sensational on defence."
Prior this season, Solberg Salgado finished third last season in the FIVB U-21 World Championships with Maria Salgado Rufino. Solberg Salgado also placed fourth and second at the 2002 and 2003 FIVB U-18 World Championships in Greece and Thailand, respectively.
"My only disappointment this weekend is that I will not see my brother (Pedro) play for the men's U-21 title Sunday," said Solberg Salgado. "I have to catch an airplane to return immediately to Brazil to play in Monday's qualifier for the last FIVB event of the season."
While Pedro plays with Moisés Santos as the second-seeded team in the men's "final four" Sunday against teams from Germany, Latvia & Spain, the 17-year old Carolina will team with Salgado Rufino in the 2004 SWATCH-FIVB World Tour season finale in Rio de Janeiro.
Carolina Solberg Salgado advanced to the finals Sunday with a 13-21, 21-14 and 17-15 semi-final win over seventh-seeded Sarka Nakladalova and Veronika Opravilova of the Czech Republic in 53 minutes. Castelli and Hamzaoui scored a 14-21, 21-18 and 15-12 semi-final win in 59 minutes over 22nd-seeded Arjanne Stevens and Marleen Van Iersel of the Netherlands.
"They were very strong and we had trouble scoring points against them," said Hamzaoui after the match. "We played well this week and we are very pleased to capture our country's first medal at a FIVB U-21 Championship. I wish we had played better in the finals, but there was a reason due to the strong play by the Brazilians. They were awesome today."
In the bronze medal match, Nakladalova and Opravilova scored a 21-16 and 21-17 win in 38 minutes over Stevens and Van Iersel, who was hoping for a bronze medal this week after placing finishing fourth with Margo Wiltens in Termoli. Stevens was seeking her second FIVB junior title after winning the 2002 U-18 title with Sanne Keizer in Greece.
The mixed gender event ends Sunday with the men's semi-finals and medal matches. Pedro Solberg Salgado is a defending FIVB U-21 World Champion after winning the title in France last season with Pedro Cunha.