Year in Review – Brazil and USA rivalry renews in 4-Star season

Lausanne, Switzerland, December 26, 2019 – Brazil and USA women’s teams dominated the 4-Star tournaments in the 2018-19 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, with seven of the gold medals on offer won by two of the traditional powerhouses of the sport. 

For Brazil Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda ‘Duda’ Santos Lisboa, and Ana Patricia and Rebecca Silva won two apiece. 

April Ross and Alexandra Klineman also topped a World Tour podium on two occasions, while Kerri Walsh Jennings won her first World Tour gold since 2016, a first alongside Brooke Sweat.

Tournament winners received $20,000 and 800 ranking points. Silver medallists left with $16,000 and 720 ranking points and bronze medallists finished with $10,000 and 640 points. 

Ana Patricia and Rebecca were the breakthrough stars of the season. They won their first gold of the season at the start of 2019 at the indoor 4-Star tournament in The Hague.

“I am happy, but there are no words for this moment,” Ana Patricia said after winning in The Hague. “It is our first gold medal in a 4-star competition and today is the birthday of our coach, so it is so, so special for us.”

They won their second in their next World Tour tournament in Xiamen and claimed two silver and two bronze. 

Ross and Klineman matched their debut year in 2018 by finishing with two gold. The first came in the season opener in Yangzhou in China when they beat Ana Patricia and Rebecca 2-0 (21-19, 21-16). 

Their second arrived in Itapema in Brazil when they held off Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes in a hard-fought final that finished 2-1 (25-23, 18-21, 15-10).

“It was very close again,” Ross said. “I think both teams always try to get better against each other every time we play, and in certain ways, we did get better again. It’s going to be a battle every time and we just feel great that we came out on top one more time.”

Walsh Jennings and Sweat topped the podium in Jinjiang after a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) defeat of Australia’s Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy. 

The three-time Olympic champion’s previous gold came at the Long Beach 4-Star, when she was in tandem with Ross. 

“It’s been so long, it just feels good, it feels good to play well as a team, it feels good to improve, it feels so good to finish on top,” Walsh Jennings said. “The world is so good at volleyball, so you have to be the best on that day to win and we played great.”

Artacho del Solar and Clancy (below) were one of three teams that won their first World Tour 4-Star tournament. 

The Australians triumphed in Warsaw, Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina triumphed in Espinho, and Swiss duo Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich left the Moscow 4-Star with the gold medals in their baggage. 

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