Challenge - Itapema, BRA - 2023 - Beach Pro Tour 2023 season - News


Andre and George praised the fans for another victory in Itapema

Andre Loyola/George Wanderley and Itapema continue to be a productive combination for Brazilian beach volleyball as the South American team won its third-straight international title in the city, triumphing at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Itapema Challenge on Sunday.

Backed by a loud and passionate crowd, the Brazilians gave no chance for Youssef Krou and Arnaud Gauthier-Rat in the gold medal match at the Meia Praia Beach, dominating the French to a straight-set (21-16, 21-13) victory. Norwegians Hendrik Mol and Mathias Berntsen took bronze in the event.

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Andre and George had another successful week in Itapema

Their victory on Sunday gave Andre and George their third-straight title in Itapema, following victories in the 2021 FIVB World Tour and at last year’s Beach Pro Tour Challenge tournament held in the city. Undefeated in each of their last three campaigns in Itapema, the Brazilians have now won their most recent 18 matches at the Meia Praia Beach.

“I’m very thankful to Itapema and everyone that takes the time to come to watch us play here,” George remarked. “I don’t think people understand how much it means for us to see the stands packed every single time we come here to play. We wanted to win this gold medal again to repay all the fans do for us here and hopefully, we’ll be back again next year.”

Andre, 28, and George, 26, stepped on the podium in Itapema for the second time in just eight days as they had won a Brazilian Tour stop held in the city last Sunday. The two dropped only two sets this week in the Itapema Challenge.

“It’s really not usual to see a team have such great results in the same city and I’m glad we’ve been able to do it here,” Andre, who also won an FIVB World Tour event in Itapema with former partner Evandro Gonçalves in 2018, added. “The fans play a big role in it, they truly make a difference for us. Itapema feels like home to me and I can’t wait to be back.”

The start of the opening set of the gold medal match was fairly even, with Brazil building a two-point lead early on at 5-3 after a block from Andre and improving it to three points (12-9) heading into the technical timeout. The French fought back and brought the difference down to a single point following consecutive errors from Andre at 13-12, but the Brazilians had another good run and regained control of the set at 17-13. Another block from Andre sealed the deal at 21-16 for the home team.

Andre’s blocking form continued into the start of the second set and he quickly got a stop that gave his team a 3-1 lead early on. George’s hard work on the backcourt pushed the Brazilians forward and he converted a transition play to improve their advantage to six points at 10-4. The home team never looked back and built an 18-10 lead with another transition play from George before another block from Andre won them the set 21-13 and the match.


The Brazilians are flanked by teams from France and Norway on the podium

Mol and Berntsen secured their second Beach Pro Tour medals in Itapema. The two, who took silver at last year’s Agadir Challenge in Morocco, claimed bronze in Brazil with a straight-set (21-19, 21-17) victory over Cubans Jorge Alayo and Noslen Díaz at the Meia Praia Beach.

“Winning bronze here is really important for us,” Mol reacted. “We had a tough fight with Andre and George in the semifinals but we couldn’t win it. The best thing we could do after that was to win bronze and that’s what we did, so we’re happy.”

In the semifinals, as observed by Mol, the Brazilians topped the Norwegians in the tie-breaker (19-21, 21-18, 15-13), while the French overcame the Cubans in straight sets (24-22, 21-13).

Another Beach Pro Tour Challenge event will be held in Brazil next week, with the city of Saquarema hosting a double-gender tournament from Thursday to Sunday.