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Brazilians Agatha & Seixas top Prague podium

Agatha Bednarczuk (right) starts to celebrate a gold medal winning effort for Brazil as Canadian rivals Sarah Pavan (center) and Heather Bansley settle for the silver medal in Prague Sunday.
Prague, Czech Republic, May 24, 2015 - After finishing a "disappointing" 25th in their last FIVB World Tour start last September where they were ousted from the Brazilian Grand Slam by their opponents in Sunday's gold medal match, Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas gained redemption in the finals of the US$75,000 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Prague Open on the sands of Stvanice Stadium.

Seeded second in the third women’s event on the 2015 FIVB World Tour calendar, Brazil’s Agatha and Seixas posted a 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) in 37 minutes over seventh-seeded Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan of Canada to claim the gold medal and the $11,000 first-place prize. The Canadians shared $8,000 for second-place.


When the 2014 international season ended for Agatha and Seixas in Brazil, the South Americans last match of the campaign was against Bansley and Pavan with the Canadians scoring a 2-0 (22-20, 22-20) victory in a 41-minute pool play match in São Paulo.

Competing in their 22nd FIVB World Tour event together, Agatha and Seixas reached an international podium for the sixth-time together with the gold medal being their second after winning in May 2014 at Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The Brazilians are 2-1 in FIVB title matches with a setback last July in the American Grand Slam in Long Beach, Calif.

“Winning here today wipes away our disappointment in São Paulo along with avenging a defeat to the Canadians,” said the 28-year old Seixas. “This is a tremendous way to start our season. The next four weeks will be very challenging and being successful here helps our confidence.”

Agatha and Seixas advanced to the Prague Open finals by defeating fourth-seeded compatriots Carolina and Maria Salgado 2-0 (21-15, 21-12) in 35 minutes. It was the first international meeting between the two Brazilian teams that have played against each other on their domestic circuit.


Bansley and Pavan advanced to their first-ever FIVB World Tour gold medal match with a 2-0 (21-12, 21-15) win in 35-minute over 24th-seeded Eduarda Lisboa and Elize Maia. The second semi-final match featured the 16-year old Eduarda, who was the third youngest player to advance to a FIVB World Tour semi-final behind two Chinese players (Ying Huang and Xinyi Xi).

“It is always tough to play another Brazilian team on the FIVB World Tour,” said the 31-year old Agatha. “We all know each other well and have played against each other for years. The good thing is that Brazil always wins these matches to advance. We respect their play and it is unfortunate that Maria Clara was not 100 percent.”


In speaking of Maria Clara’s status, the 32-year old Brazilian had to withdraw from the Prague Open bronze medal match due to injury to give the third spot on the podium Sunday to Eduarda and Elize Maia. “I have been playing a long time on the FIVB World Tour. I don’t think I have ever withdrawn from any match in my 10-plus years of playing. I am disappointed not to play, but I did not want to risk further injury.”

With the Prague Open being the 280th event on the FIVB World Tour since the start of the circuit in 1992, Brazil has now advanced a team to a gold medal match 247 times. While Canada has only one FIVB World Tour gold medal to their credit, Brazilians have topped the podium 138 times.


The Prague Open was the third women’s FIVB World Tour qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas, who placed 17th this week after winning gold (Fuzhou, China) and bronze (Lucerne, Switzerland) medals in the first two events this season, lead the provisional Rio rankings with 1,080 points.  Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude of Germany (990 points) and Bansley/Pavan (750) are second and third on the Rio list.


Men’s and women’s competition on the FIVB World Tour continues Monday at the Moscow Grand Slam (May 25-31). The FIVB World Tour’s first “Major Series” stops are set for Croatia (Poreč, June 1-7) and Norway (Stavanger, June 8-14) before international circuit crosses the Atlantic for the final world championship “tune up” in the United States for the St. Petersburg Grand Slam in Florida (June 15-21). The 2015 FIVB “senior” Beach Volleyball World Championships will be played at four sites in The Netherlands starting June 26 with the final matches scheduled for July 5 in The Hague.

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