Brazil’s Eduarda/Elize Maia claim Women’s gold at FIVB Fortaleza Open
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event was played at the purpose built stadium at Praia do Futuro in Fortaleza,
Brazil’s fifth-seeded Eduarda, just 17 and Elize Maia, 31, played brilliantly in answering every challenge from Brazil’s fourth-seeded Juliana/Taiana in the gold medal match to win in straight sets, 21-17, 21-18 in 35 minutes.
In the women’s bronze medal match Sunday prior to the women’s gold medal finale, Brazil’s 19th-seeded Rebecca Silva/Liliane Maestrini held off Vanuatu’s determined Miller Pata/Linline Matauatu in straight sets, 21-19, 21-19 in 41 minutes.
With the sweep of the Fortaleza podium, Brazil has now accomplished that feat a record 24 different times on the FIVB World Tour while advancing two teams to the gold medal match for the 57th time. Brazil’s women increased their FIVB-leading final four total to 476 which far outdistances the United States which is second in all-time FIVB country final fours list with 308. Brazil’s last women’s podium sweep before Sunday in Fortaleza was last June at the FIVB St. Petersburg Grand Slam in the United States.
FIVB FORTALEZA OPEN PURSE/POINTS
The gold medal teams at the FIVB Fortaleza Open will split $11,000 and 500 points, the silver $8,000 and 450 points, the bronze $6,000 400 points and fourth place $4,500 and 450 points. The event is the fourth and final regular season Brazilian stop on the 2016 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
GOLD MEDAL REVIEW
While Brazil’s Juliana/Taiana were the sentimental home-town favorites in Fortaleza, Brazil’s youthful Eduarda and Elize Maia weren’t about to surrender and the see-saw first set saw six tied scores early as the teams maneuvered to figure out what the others were doing before Eduarda/Elize Maia put the set away by a four-point margin.
Brazil’s Juliana/Taiana scored first in the second set for their only lead of the game. Brazil’s Eduarda/Elize Maia then rattled off four straight points and the score was tied nine different times with the last at 17-17. Eliza Maia gave her team the lead for good with a kill down the middle and another poke shot to the left side over the net to go up 19-17. After Juliana won a joust at the net to close the gap to one, Brazil’s Eduarda/Elize Maia won the set and match, scoring the final two point on a two hitting errors by Brazil’s Juliana/Larissa, the match point being a wide right kill by Juliana who was attempting to get by Elize Maia.
For Brazil’s Eduarda/Elize Maia, this was just their eighth FIVB World Tour event as a team and they have now earned four final four placements that include two gold medals, one silver medal, one bronze and one fifth place finish. They had a perfect 7-0 record in the FIVB Fortaleza Open.
For the Brazil’s much-more experienced Juliana/Taiana, they were playing in just their fourth FIVB World Tour event as a team and this was their first final four finish and first silver medal. This doesn’t scratch the surface of their illustrious FIVB careers. In Fortaleza, they had a 5-2 record.
Both former FIVB World Tour champions, individually Juliana, who won the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games with Larissa Franca, was playing in her 99th FIVB World Tour final four and now has 47 gold, 26 silver, 19 bronze medals and seven fourth place finishes. Taiana was playing in her 18th FIVB World Tour final four and now has six gold, six silver, three bronze medals and three fourth place finishes. Taiana also won the silver medal at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands, playing with Fernanda Alves.
Brazil’s Elize Maia reacted after winning the gold medal, "The first time we won gold we were excited, but this means even more because it shows we continue to improve. We played very well in Fortaleza are very grated to earn our second FIVB World Tour gold medal in just two months. We don’t have the opportunity to go to many international tournaments because we have so many great teams in Brazil. We appreciate having this opportunity. We fought point by point and that helped control our anxiety, we really concentrated. When we saw the score was close the end and we were about to win our next gold it was amazing. This was another goal achieved.”
Brazil’s talented young lioness Eduarda said after the final match, “Juliana and Taiana is a double hard team to play against, they have won so many international tournaments and the FIVB World Tour season championship, our game isn’t at the level of theirs, but we keep studying a lot, watching their Matches. We studied, didn’t panic, played our game and luckily it all worked out. We are seeing an evolution in our team and it motivates us even more, and we keep chasing our dreams. One gold on the FIVB World Tour is great, two gold medals, is even almost unbelievable, especially because we haven’t played together in that many international tournaments.”
BRONZE MEDAL REVIEW
In another first-meeting match, Brazil’s 19th-seeded Rebecca/Lili won the bronze medal over Vanuatu’s sixth-seeded Pata/Matauatu in two close sets, with the teams exchanging points until near the end of each when Brazil’s Rebecca/Lili flexed their muscles just enough to pull out each by the same two-point margin.
In the deciding second set, Brazil trailed 13-16, scored five straight to take the lead at 17-16 on an ace serve by Rebecca, swapped points to 19-19 and then closed it out with successive winning attacks by Rebecca and Lili.
Brazil’s Rebecca/Lili were playing in just their third FIVB World Tour event as a team with and they now have another bronze medal finish as their second final four finish (They also won bronze in Parana, Argentina in 2014). Individually, Rebecca now has two FIVB final four finishes with bronze medals in each. Lili now has five overall final fours with one silver medal and four bronze medals. Lili won the bronze medal at the 2013 FIVB World Championships in Stare Jablonki, Poland with Barbara Seixas. Brazil’s Rebecca/Lili finished their tournament with the bronze medal and a 5-2 match record in Fortaleza.
This was the 22nd FIVB World Tour event for ever-improving Vanuatu’s Pata/Matauatu and first final four finish and they also have three fifth place finishes. The leave Fortaleza with their first fourth place finish in an FIVB World Tour event and a 5-2 record, having lost only to the Brazilian gold and bronze medalists.
Giving her reaction to winning the bronze medal, Rebecca said, “We got a fourth place in the Brazilian national tour for the season, and now a bronze in a World Tour event. It is very special because we are at home, with my daughter in the stands watching. I don’t know how to describe in words--the joy and happiness. We had very tough matches, but I think we deserved this win too much. We will keep this medal in Fortaleza.”
Lili reflected back on the match and tournament, saying, “I knew it would be a very tough game, they beat the great team of the Netherlands (Van Iersel/Meppelink). And we're still adjusting as a the team, this medal has a golden taste. In the end, losing in the second set, I looked at Rebecca and said ‘hey, we deserve this bronze’. This energy at the end, clapping hands of these great Brazilian fans, this attitude gave us the victory. I am proud of our position in the tournament.”
ON THE HORIZON
With placement points for the FIVB Olympic Rankings for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games continuing, the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour is in the midst with events over eight straight weeks through the end of May. In all, Brazil is hosting five international events in 2016. In addition to Maceió, Rio and Vitoria and Fortaleza, the Brazil events conclude with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Aug. 6-18).
The FIVB World Tour heads to Europe FIVB Fortaleza Open. Up first will be in Russia for this week’s FIVB Sochi Open (May 3-8) followed by the FIVB Antalya Open in Turkey (May 11-15). The tour then visits the United States for the FIVB Cincinnati Open (May 17-22) and then returns to Russia for the FIVB Moscow Grand Slam (May 24-29).