Evandro and Arthur pose with the Brazilian flag after their victory in Saquarema

The Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Saquarema Challenge ended on a high note for the Brazilian fans that packed the stadium at the Centro de Aviação on Sunday as they witnessed the first title of the new home team of Evandro Gonçalves and Arthur Lanci.

The Brazilians had a tough battle with Americans Chase Budinger and Miles Evans in the gold medal match, but recovered from a slow start to beat their opponents in three sets (18-21, 21-12, 15-13) and take the title in front of their home fans. Austrians Julian Hörl and Alexander Horst secured bronze in Saquarema.

  • All matches of the Beach Pro Tour Saquarema Challenge are available on demand on VBTV

Partners since the start of the season, the 32-year-old Evandro and the 27-year-old Arthur topped the podium in just their fourth tournament together – their best result heading into the Saquarema Challenge was a fourth at the La Paz Challenge, in March.

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, which is located just over 100km away from Saquarema, Evandro also celebrated his return to the top of the podium in an international event for the first time since 2019. A 2017 world champion and a two-time Olympian, the 2.10m-tall Brazilian now has eight international victories to his name.

“Right now, I can only thank the fans who came here and supported us from the start to finish,” he said on the court. “Playing in front of this incredible crowd has been amazing. I also want to thank our coaching staff as they have been doing excellent work with us. It means the world for us to win here, but we'll continue to work as we've been doing and prepare for the Uberlândia Elite16. Our next goal is to qualify for the World Championship.”


Arthur faces Budinger at the net

For Arthur, an U19 and U21 world champion who started his international career back in 2015, the triumph in Saquarema was his first.

“It’s my first victory on the Beach Pro Tour and I hope there are many more to come alongside Evandro,” he reacted. “I have to thank my family for the support during all these years and our coaching staff and Evandro, who believed in me. Playing in Brazil is amazing, we feel like no one can beat us when we have the fans by our side. Now we focus on the next matches and next events, we want more.”

The Americans started the gold medal match on a better rhythm and got an 8-6 lead with an ace from Budinger. The two started to put pressure on Arthur and he sent an overpass right toward Budinger, who hit it straight down to score 16-11, getting his team a comfortable lead. The Brazilians made a good run at the end, but weren’t able to catch the Americans, who sealed their 21-18 win with a well-placed shot from Evans.

The home team had a strong start to set two and, benefiting from a great serving run from Evandro and some American errors, created good separation, taking seven of the first eight points played. The Brazilians never looked back and got to the technical timeout with a seven-point lead (14-7). With back-to-back blocks from Evandro, they scored 17-7. In the end, Arthur found a good spot with a roll shot to score 21-12.

The Americans scored the first two points in the tie-breaker, but the Brazilians fought back and quickly tied at 4-4 with a transition play from Arthur. There were a few lead changes, but the teams remained close until the end, when a block from Evandro on Budinger gave the Brazilians the two-point separation they needed (15-13) to win.


Duos from the Brazil, the United States and Austria made it to the podium at the Campo de Aviação

With their three-set (14-21, 21-15, 15-10) victory over Americans Miles Partain and Andy Benesh, Austrians Hörl and Horst secured their first medal as partners in a Challenge event, taking bronze in Saquarema.

In 2022, their first year as partners, the Austrians took gold in a pair of Futures events held in Klaipeda and Baden.

“The crowd was amazing,” Hörl commented. “The stadium was packed the entire time and they wouldn’t stop cheering. It’s really cool to play in this environment and we had a lot of fun.”

Next week’s Beach Pro Tour schedule will feature a Futures event in Satun, Thailand, from April 20-23. The event will be back in Brazil in ten days for the Uberlândia Elite16, which will be played from April 26-30.