Duda & Ana Patricia celebrate their semifinal win

Brazil’s Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) and Ana Patricia Ramos will take on Canada’s Sophie Bukovec and Brandie Wilkerson in Sunday’s women’s final at the Beach Volleyball World Championships Rome 2022. The two pairs claimed well-deserved victories in their semifinals at the Foro Italico on Saturday to secure their first ever World Championship medals.

The big game for the gold on Sunday starts at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT). Four hours earlier, Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre and Germany’s Svenja Muller and Cinja Tillmann will cross their ways in a battle to join the Rome 2022 podium with the bronze medals.

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In Saturday’s first semifinal, Duda and Ana Patricia managed to take out Heidrich and Verge-Depre in straight sets, 2-0 (21-19, 21-13). The Swiss took an early three-point lead, but the Brazilians quickly caught up at 5-5. Three points in a row gave Duda and Ana Patricia a 16-14 advantage and their opponents were never able to catch up. Ana Patricia shone on the block, producing four stuffs towards the set win. Heidrich sent a serve both long and wide to gift the set to the Brazilians at 21-19. In the second, the South Americans were able to gain a 4-1 lead, which the Europeans immediately wiped off. They stayed competitive halfway through the set, after which the Brazilians took control and ran off with a wide gap. Duda bumped the ball over on one to bring the match point at 20-12. Two rallies down the road Duda spiked for the 21-13 winner to propel her team to the final. The two Brazilians scored 15 points each for the win, while Heidrich signed off with the match high of 17 points.

This is the third World Championship for Duda and the second for Ana Patricia, but neither of them has been able to go beyond a ninth-place finish before.

“We’re very happy to be in our first World Championship final. It’s a very important and special tournament for us. We can only thank our coaching staff, who have been doing a great job, and Praia Clube, which has been helping us a lot,” Duda told Volleyball World. “Brazil has a strong tradition in the World Championships. In Hamburg, there were a lot of new teams, it was a different moment and the results weren’t good. I’m glad to see our country doing well again. We have very strong teams, which can compete with anyone in the world, and we’re just very happy that we’ve been able to represent Brazil so well this time.”

“I’m happy with the progress we’ve had in every match. We had a goal of being more coordinated and organised on the court and we accomplished it. We’re very happy with all we’ve done here in Rome, but we’ll fight with everything we have for the gold medal tomorrow, which would be very important for our team,” Ana Patricia added. “Whoever wins the other semifinal, that team will be a tough opponent. No one gets to the gold medal match of the World Championship by chance, so we need to be ready for a very difficult match. All we have in mind is that we need to do our best, as we did today, and hopefully we can take the trophy back home with us.”


Bukovec & Brandie rejoice upon making the Rome 2022 final

The second semifinal went to three. The first half of the first set was very tight, but then Bukovec and Brandie gained control of the scoreboard. Muller and Tillmann were doing well at the net, at both spiking and blocking, but committed far too many unforced errors to let the opponents win the set. Bukovec hit the 21-15 winner to give Canada the lead. The Germans stepped up their spiking efforts, took an early advantage in the second set and never looked back. A long serve by Bukovec marked the winning point for Muller and Tillmann at 21-15. The Canadians stormed back into the match with two consecutive aces by Bukovec to open the third set on the way to a 3-0 lead. Then they just kept pace with Brandie’s off-the-block hit shaping up the 2-1 (21-15, 15-21, 15-12) victory. Muller scored a total of 23 points in the match, while Brandie led Canada with 20.

Brandie Wilkerson has previously played at two World Championships, with the Vienna 2017 fifth place as her best result. Her current teammate Sophie Bukovec, however, is a complete World Championship rookie and will play in the gold medal match at her first appearance at beach volleyball’s elite competition.

“We’ve set our intentions pretty clear. We’ve been very present and mindful about what we are working on and what our goals are for the year. We’ve had excellent coaching staff to help us stay in the right mindset and focus on our foundations,” Brandie commented after the match. “As athletes we all do have expectations. We came here expecting to win just like everybody else, but managing that is either helping you or hurting you.”

“I think a big thing for us is just enjoying a good level of volleyball and if that means we end up winning, that’s great, but as Brandie said it’s about focusing on the fundamentals and doing extremely well those things that we identify our team with,” Bukovec added. “I feel grateful after every match to be able to play on such a big stage, to be playing with such an experienced partner…”