Challenge - Espinho, POR - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News

Agatha/Rebecca (BRA) vs. Gruszczynska/Wachowicz (POL) - Quarterfinals #5844914

Ágatha and Rebecca had a strong day in the elimination rounds in Portugal

Ágatha Bednarczuk and Rebecca Cavalcanti will fight for medals in their third Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event as partners as the Brazilian Olympians advanced to the semifinals of the Espinho Challenge, in Portugal, on Saturday.

The two form one of three duos from the South American county who remain in the hunt for the title at the Praia da Baía, alongside Carol Salgado/Bárbara Seixas and Andressa Cavalcanti/Vitoria Lopes. China’s Chen Xue/Xinyi Xia are the fourth team to qualify for the semifinals of the Espinho Challenge.

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Ágatha and Rebecca will face Andressa and Vitoria in the all-Brazilian semifinal on Sunday, at 10:00 local time (09:00 UTC), with Carol and Bárbara playing against Xue and Xia on the other side of the bracket one hour earlier. The bronze medal match will begin at 14:00 local time (13:00 UTC) and the final one hour later.

Ágatha, a 2015 world champion and Rio 2016 Olympic silver medalist, and Rebecca first became partners at the start of the year, when Ágatha resumed her career after becoming a mother, but had some setbacks and had to postpone their Beach Pro debut for a few months.

The two appeared at last month’s Ostrava Elite16, finishing 13th, and last week’s Gstaad Elite16, ranking ninth. The Brazilians continued to show progress as a team this week in Portugal and will make their first semifinal appearance together on the Beach Pro Tour.

“We're very, very happy”, Rebecca said. “We know how much we've been through, how many sacrifices we're making and how much we deserve this. We're trying to be very patient when it comes to getting results, but making it to the semifinals means a lot to us. We're sticking together and focusing on one match at a time and we'll keep doing that on Sunday.”

Agatha/Rebecca (BRA) vs. Pavan/McBain (CAN) - Pool C #5828346

A Tokyo Olympian, Rebecca is enjoying her early success with Ágatha

After ending pool play with a win and a loss on Friday, the two pulled off a pair of victories on Saturday, topping Finland’s Taru Lahti and Niina Athiainen 2-1 (21-17, 15-21, 15-9) in the Round of 16 and Poland’s Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz in straight sets (21-14, 21-11) in the quarterfinals.

“It's been a new experience to me”, Ágatha, who's traveling on the Beach Pro Tour with her daughter Kahena, explained. “I've always been very disciplined and organized with my routine and that's obviously not possible when you have a baby to care for. I'm learning to be more flexible and to find ways to make things work. But being able to have her here with me is making all of this even more special. It's been a joy.”

Beach Pro Tour Espinho Challenge - Match Schedule and Results

Andressa/Vitoria (BRA) vs. Placette/Richard (FRA) - Quarterfinals #5843082

Andressa and Vitoria are undefeated with four victories in Espinho

Their opponents on Sunday’s semifinal, Andressa and Vitoria are undefeated in Espinho and secured two more wins on Saturday, overcoming the Round of 16 and the quarterfinals at the Praia da Baía. The Brazilians needed all three sets (14-21, 21-17, 15-6) to defeat the Austrian sisters Dorina and Ronja Klinger in the first match of the day, before handling French Lézana Placette and Alexia Richard in straight sets (21-17, 21-15).

Xue and Xia, who lost to Andressa and Vitoria in pool play on Friday, were solid on Saturday, overcoming two American teams on their way to the semifinals. The Chinese Olympians topped Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) in the Round of 16 and got the better of Megan Kraft and Emily Stockman in their three-set (21-17, 18-21, 15-7) quarterfinal encounter.

Top-seeded Carol and Bárbara had a tough battle in their Round of 16 match, defeating Canadian qualifiers Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain in the tie-breaker (21-16, 20-22, 15-13). Later, in the quarterfinals, the Brazilians were dominant against Spanish Daniela Álvarez and Tania Moreno, advancing with a two-set (21-16, 21-19) victory.