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The Guadalajara Challenge women’s podium

The Guadalajara Challenge women’s podium

Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre wrote history on Sunday by claiming the team’s first-ever Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour gold. They topped the women’s podium at the Guadalajara Challenge in Mexico, a victory that was even more important in the context of the Swiss race for Olympic tickets, where three teams are running neck in neck for the two available quotas at Paris 2024. Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk & Rebecca Cavalcanti took the silver and the bronze went to Canada’s Heather Bansley & Sophie Bukovec. Amazingly, all three of these pairs started their main draw campaigns with defeats.

USA’s Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner also gained an important edge in the race towards the Summer Games in France by snatching the men’s gold in Guadalajara. Germany’s Lukas Pfretzschner & Sven Winter and Brazil’s Evandro Oliveira & Arthur Mariano completed the podium.

The Guadalajara Challenge men’s podium

The Guadalajara Challenge men’s podium

· Watch Guadalajara Challenge main draw replays on VBTV.

12th-seeded Esmee & Zoe stumbled upon Thailand’s Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee & Taravadee Naraphornrapat in their opening game in Guadalajara, losing it in the tie-breaker, but then survived another three-setter to win against American qualifiers Savannah Simo & Abby Van Winkle and finished third in their pool to stay alive in the tournament. The Swiss duo continued on the winning track and their five-match victory streak led them to their first gold on the Beach Pro Tour. Previously, they won a 1-star gold on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour, but the only medal they had on the Beach Pro Tour was their Jurmala Challenge silver in 2023.

In their semifinal game, Esmee & Zoe celebrated a hard-fought 2-1 (21-18, 18-21, 20-18) win over third-seeded Bansley & Bukovec, before mastering a 2-0 (21-12, 21-16) shutout of seventh-seeded Agatha & Rebecca.

Agatha/Rebecca vs. Esmée/Zoé - Gold Match Highlights Guadalajara 2024 #BeachProTour

The Guadalajara silver was the third Beach Pro Tour medal for the pair of Brazilian Olympians, after the Espinho Challenge bronze in July and the Chiang Mai Challenge gold in November. Agatha & Rebecca also started their campaign in Mexico with a surprising three-set loss to Japanese qualifiers Akiko Hasegawa & Miki Ishii, but then went on a four-game winning streak, crowned by a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) sweep of their semifinal against 11th-seeded Germans Karla Borger & Sandra Ittlinger.

Bansley & Bukovec, who launched their participation in the tournament from Thursday’s qualifiers, but then also started the main draw with a defeat, bounced back from their narrow semifinal loss with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) victory over Borger & Ittlinger to get the bronze, their third Beach Pro Tour medal, after the Halifax Futures gold in September and the Recife Challenge silver in March.

15th-seeded Trevor Crabb & Theodore Brunner advanced to the Guadalajara knockouts as Pool C runners-up and won their next four games (all four of them in tie-breakers!) to snatch their second Beach Pro Tour gold, after topping the podium at the Espinho Challenge last summer. They also have the Haikou Challenge silver from November in their collection. In their last two matches, the Americans had to come back from a set down, but persevered on the way to a 2-1 (18-21, 21-18, 15-13) semifinal win over third-seeded Cubans Noslen Diaz & Jorge Alayo and a 2-1 (12-21, 21-19, 15-12) victory in the final against eighth-seeded Pfretzschner & Winter.

In the other semifinal, the Germans produced a 2-0 (21-14, 21-16) upset of top-seeded Evandro & Arthur to secure the pair’s first Beach Pro Tour medal since they teamed up last summer. They reached the Guadalajara final undefeated in the five matches they had on the way to their encounter with Crabb & Brunner.

Evandro & Arthur bounced back with a 2-0 (21-13, 21-17) shutout of Diaz & Alayo in the third-place game to make the team’s fourth Beach Pro Tour podium.

The Beach Pro Tour will stay in Mexico for this week’s Tepic Elite16 event from April 17 to 21. The next Challenge event is in Xiamen, China from April 25 to 28.