Brazil’s past and future advance in Rio Open

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2, 2015 - The Brazilian past and future were on display on the center court of the Rio Open here Wednesday as Beach Volleyball Olympians Renata Ribeiro and Ana Patricia Silva won a pair of qualifying matches in the FIVB World Tour event to advance to the 24-team Main Draw in the “test” tournament for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Playing in their first-ever FIVB World Tour event, the 33-year old Renata and 16-year old Ana Patricia opened with a 2-1 (18-21, 21-13, 15-13) win in 43 minutes over compatriots Michelle Carvalho and Luciana Hollanda before advancing to the Main Draw with a 2-1 (21-16, 20-22 and 16-14) come-from-behind victory over Kim Behrens and Anni Schumacher of Germany in 46 minutes.

Renata, a fourth-place finisher at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and winner of five FIVB World Tour gold medals, and Ana Patricia trailed 9-5 in the third and deciding set with the Germans, who had a first-round “bye” in the 26-team qualifier Wednesday.  The Brazilians scored four-straight points to quickly tie the set and finished with a three-point run at the end.

“Wow that is a relief said Renata, who is the mother of children.  “The Germans fought hard and were playing great in the third set.  But, we made some plays at the end and Ana Patricia’s serving was effective.  We do not have a lot of experience together, so it is great that we were able to advance in this big event.”

Ana Patricia captured the gold medal last August at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games with Eduarda Lisboa, who also qualified for the Rio Open Main Draw with Eliza Maia.  Overall, Brazil had six teams earn spots in Thursday’s opening pool play matches in the Main Draw that will utilize the same format to be used at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Eduarda and Maia, who had a first-round “bye” scored a 2-0 (21-17, 21-11) win in 29 minutes over compatriots Danielle Cristine Neves and Fernanda Nunes.  The 17-year old Eduarda, who has also won two FIVB “age group” world championships, and Maia are playing in their third world tour event this week after placing fifth (Switzerland) and third (Czech Republic) in May at international stops in Europe.

Other Brazilian tandems advancing to the Main Draw Wednesday were the Salgado sisters (Carolina and Maria Clara), Pauline Alves/Paula Hoffmann, Rachel Nunes/Angela Vieira and Josemari Alves Vanilda Leao.  Foreign pairs netting Main Draw berths were Yuanyuan Ma/Xinyi Xia of China and Amanda Dowdy/Heather McGuire of the United States.

With the six qualifiers, Brazil will have 10 teams in the Main Draw.  Earning automatic berths for Thursday’s play were Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas, Talita Antunes/Larissa Franca, Maria Antonelli/Juliana Felisberta and Fernanda Alves/Taiana Lima.  Agatha and Barbara are the reigning FIVB world championships while Talita and Larissa were announced Tuesday members of Brazil’s Beach Volleyball team at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

While Agatha and Barbara are the topped-ranked pair on the women’s tour, Talita and Larissa have won the most gold medals (five) and money ($324,000).  In the last 13 months since forming their partnership in July 2014, Talita and Larissa have netted nine gold medals in 14 events with an impressive 80-8 match mark and $534,000 in earnings.

The US$150,000 Rio Open features 42 women’s and 39 men’s teams from 20 countries with host Brazil having 41 pairs (20 women and 21 men) in the competition that is part of the FIVB World Tour.  The 13th women’s and 12th men’s stop on the 2015 international calendar, the Rio Open concludes with the medal matches Sunday where the winning pairs in both genders will share the $11,000 first-place prizes.

The Rio Open will be the first FIVB World Tour event to be played on Copacabana beach since 2004 when European pairs from Germany and Switzerland filled the top three men’s podium places while the Brazilian women captured all three medals in the late September tournament that season-ending international event.

The first FIVB-sanctioned event was played in Rio when a men’s event was held in 1987 on Ipanema beach.  In total, the men’s FIVB World Tour has staged 14 events in Rio with the women playing seven times starting in February 1993.  Copacabana was also the site of the 2005 FIVB under-21 World Championships.

Following the Rio Open, the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for a stop in Russia (Sochi, September 8-13) before taking a week off before visiting China (Xiamen, September 22-27) for the second-time in 2015.  The “elite” players on the international circuit will be featured September 29-October 4 at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Renata talks about her partnership with Ana Patrícia and the great victory against Germany (2-1) #RioOpen— Beach Volleyball (@FIVBWorldTour) September 2, 2015


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