03.07.2019 - Hamburg, Germany
Beach volleyball powerhouses Brazil and the United States featured a pair of matchups in the Round of 32 of the 2019 World Championships and the score was even, with Agatha Bednarczuk/Duda Lisboa and Alix Klineman/April Ross moving forward at the Rothenbaum Stadium, in Hamburg.
Agatha and Duda became the third Brazilian team to advance to the Round of 16 after they downed three-time Olympic and world champion Kerri Walsh Jennings and her partner Brooke Sweat 21-18, 21-16 in a packed Red Bull Beach Arena.
“The match started very intense, but we stuck together and got the job done,” Duda said. “We’ve been against them quite often recently and it’s always a challenge because we never know which strategy they will come up with. And they are also great players. But we helped each other and it all went well.”
The Brazilians will now play Russians Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina, a team they’ve won twice in the World Tour. The Europeans defeated Spanish Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo 21-18, 21-17 in the Round of 32.
“No team gets so far in a tournament like this by accident, so we’ll need to remain alert and prepare well,” Agatha explained. “We last played them almost a year ago, so we’ll need to go through a lot of video tonight to have a better idea on their game and what they could be doing differently. But I’m very confident we’ll come back even stronger because of the way we’ve played so far.”
Klineman and Ross win in three
The American victory came via the hands of Klineman and Ross, who grinded through a three-set battle (21-15, 13-21, 15-11) against Maria Elisa Antonelli and Carolina Salgado to book their places in the Round of 16.
“We prepared a lot, but I think the biggest things today were our attitude, our resilience, our grind and our determination to get the win,” Klineman commented. “Things weren’t perfect, but there was no fear on our side. It’s a blessing when we have these really challenging matches because that’s when we find a new level in ourselves.”
The triumph was a confidence booster for the Americans, who had lost a pool play match to Germans Karla Borger and Julia Sude and will now face Latvia’s Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka, who downed Russians Ekaterina Birlova and Evgenia Ukolova 22-20, 21-19.
But the experienced Ross, a 2009 world champion and 2017 silver medalist, is aware the team can’t get too carried on the emotions of their victory.
“It was a really good win against a great Brazilian team and we don’t take them lightly,” Ross remarked. “But I don’t think we can go forward and just think we don’t have to prepare as well as we’ve been doing. We’ll take that win all day, but we can’t get overconfident in any way.”