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2015-10-04 13:30:00 CET

Bronze battles stoke huge crowd for gold medal war

Thousands of excited fans showed up early to catch the morning’s bronze medal matches at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.

Thousands of excited fans showed up early to catch the morning’s bronze medal matches at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale.

With southern Florida being home to one of the largest concentrations of Brazilians in the entire United States, there was a sea of yellow and green in the packed grandstands.

It was South America versus North America in the women’s bronze medal match, as Brazilian FIVB World Champions Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas looked to salvage a medal from the season’s most important tournament in taking on Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley. Pavan and Bansley, who make a striking team as the tallest and shortest women in the tournament (6’5”/196cm and 5’7”/171cm), put up a ferocious fight, but the Brazilians showed why they’ve been named to their country’s 2016 Olympic team with a 22-20, 14-21, 15-10 win.

Photocredit: Joerg MitterPhotocredit: Joerg Mitter

“The crowd has been here supporting us every day, and the energy has been amazing,” said Barbara. “Being able to play a tournament like this helps you build a lot of strength because you’ve got only the teams who are in the best shape, and who have developed really good chemistry throughout the season. It’s really important going into an Olympic year.”

Brazil’s second bronze of the morning came when Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg cut the towering Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of The Netherlands down to size. Known for skill at the net, the two Brazilians – only their first year of playing together – were double trouble for the Dutch World Champions from 2013, winning in straight sets, 21-19, 21-14. 

Photocredit: Andreas LangreiterPhotocredit: Andreas Langreiter

In the women’s gold medal match at 1:00pm ET, Brazil’s Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca face off with Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst. The Brazilians are on a 26-match winning streak – but the last team to beat them was none other than Ludwig and Walkenhorst.

The gold medal bout for the men at 2:30pm ET will be a battle of titans, as 2015 World Champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt try to deny local Florida hero Nick Lucena and his partner Phil Dalhausser, an Olympic gold medalist and former World Champion who is a household name in the USA. The undefeated Americans have been an unstoppable train in the tournament so far, and Alison and Bruno will be switching up their strategy to try to derail them.

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