FIVB’s vision creates special experience
The FIVB vision in developing the sport for younger players was very evident here this week at the $150,000 Maceió Open where five players that competed in the July 2002 U21 World Championships in Italy (Catania) are participating in this FIVB World Tour event.
• Maceio Open website
• Qualification results - Men
• Qualification results - Women
• Main draw results - Men
• Main draw results - Women
Of the five players, Juliana Felisberta Silva and Taiana Lima are playing together in the Maceió Open for the first-time since partnering for Brazil in the 2002 and 2003 (Saint Quay Portrieux, France) U21 World Championships.
Taiana Lima (left) and Juliana Felisberta in action at the Maceió Open
“It was a very special time for us,” said Juliana Felisberta after her first match here Thursday in the Maceió Open as she and her fourth-seeded Brazilian partner Taiana Lima defeated Ekaterina Birlova and Evgeniya Ukolova of Russia 2-0 (21-19, 21-14) in a 40-minute Pool D match.
It was the Brazilians’ second victory in the competition as Juliana and Lima finish group play Thursday afternoon against 13th-seeded Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas of Canada. A win would give Juliana and Lima the Pool D title and a first-round bye for Friday’s elimination bracket schedule.
“The 2002 tournament was our first-time compete together in an international event and the first-time to leave Brazil in our lives,” Juliana added. “It was an amazing trip as we had to qualify for the Main Draw and then we won the gold medal. At that time, I knew I could play on the FIVB World Tour, but I never thought I could win an Olympic medal.”
As one of the more experienced players in the competition, the Maceió Open is Juliana’s 135th FIVB World Tour event as she has won 47 gold medals with 91 podium placements and 98 “final four” appearances. She and Larissa Franca captured the bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games after winning the Rome 2011 World Championships.
Lima has collected six gold medals on the FIVB World Tour with the Maceió Open being her 66th event. She has 14 podium placements and 17 “final four” finishes to her credit, including a silver medal at The Netherlands 2015 World Championships with Fernanda Alves.
In the 2002 Catania gold medal finale, Juliana and Lima posted a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) win in 34 minutes over Isabelle Forrer and Melanie Schonenberger of Switzerland. Before the title match, Talita Antunes and Maria Clara Salgado captured the bronze medal for Brazil by defeating Vasiliki Arvaniti and Efthalia Koutroumanidou of Greece 2-0 (21-15, 21-9) in 33 minutes.
In addition to Juliana and Lima’s entry together this week in the Maceió Open, the other players from the 2002 U21 World Championships in this week’s field with different partners are Forrer, Talita and Arvaniti. Forrer is now playing with Anouk Verge-Depre as the 17th-seeded team in the Main Draw.Talita is paired with Larissa as the pair has already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Arvaniti, a two-time Greek Olympian, and Penny Karagkoun failed to qualify for the Main Draw after losing their opening match Tuesday. Lombardo Ontiveros, who is competing with Juan Virgen in this week’s men’s competition, also competed in the 2002 U21 World Championships where he and Erik Rojo placed ninth for Mexico.
“I will never forget that trip, that event and that experience,” Juliana added. “Travelling internationally for the first time was an eye-opening experience and we learned so much about life in other countries. At that time, I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to represent Brazil for the first time in an international event.”
Since that “eye-opening” trip to Italy, Juliana has competed in beach volleyball events on all five continents and 24 countries. “It has been a wonderful experience and it all started with Taiana in 2002 at a youth World Championship in Italy. Thank you FIVB for the vision!”