Beach Pro Tour - News

Melissa/Brandie (CAN) vs. Esmée/Zoé (SUI) - Final 1st Place #5015006

Melissa & Brandie triumph

Melissa Humana-Paredes & Brandie Wilkerson triumphed at the Jurmala Challenge on Sunday to claim their first gold on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour as a team. In fact, Melissa defended her Elite16 trophy she earned with Sarah Pavan last year, but this time Brandie was by her side. It was the new Canadian pairing’s second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the bronze they claimed a couple of weeks ago at the Ostrava Elite16. Third-seeded Melissa & Brandie dropped only a set in the six matches they played this week in Latvia.

· Watch the Beach Pro Tour Jurmala Challenge live on VBTV.

Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner & Zoe Verge-Depre, seeded 11th, took the silver and celebrated their first-ever medal on the Beach Pro Tour.

The number one seed of the tournament, Latvia’s Tina Graudina & Anastasija Samoilova, made it to the podium for the first time at a senior world-level or continental tournament held at home in Jurmala. For the Tokyo 2020 Olympians and reigning European champions, the Jurmala bronze was the third Beach Pro Tour medal, after their Elite16 silvers in Rosarito and Paris last year.

The first set of Sunday’s final was quite even, with the lead changing hands a few times until 13-13. With Melissa spearheading the offence, the Canadians took control of the scoreboard and held on to it through the end of the set. Similarly, the second set stayed competitive through 9-9, before Brandie took ownership of the net to push her team forward to a victory. Brandie herself delivered the winning point with a monster block, one of five she made for the team during the game. She added two aces towards a shared match high of 18 points, while Melissa finished with 15. Esmee also tallied 18 points, including an impressive five aces.

“Oh, I’m so happy!” exclaimed Brandie after the match. “I had the best time playing with Melissa. She is an ultimate super star. And this team has been working hard, so it’s so good to see it come out with a gold medal. You can never feel you have control or else you’ll lose it immediately, so every point we played like it was the first point of the game until the very end. Our opponents are obviously extremely talented and they had an amazing tournament, so it was a great effort to play against them.”

“How lucky am I to play with Brandie! She is an all-star all weekend, getting all the monster blocks, and it’s been such a pleasure,” added Melissa. “I’m so proud of the team. We’ve been so steady all weekend long and this whole week has been incredible. The weather has been beautiful, the people are so nice, it’s such a beautiful tournament, so well run, and we can’t wait to come back next year. Thank you, Jurmala! It’s been so fun to play in front of you.”

Melissa/Brandie (CAN) vs. Esmée/Zoé (SUI) - Final 1st Place #5015027

Brandie monster-blocks a shot be Zoe

Tina & Anastasija completely dominated the first set of the bronze medal match against Brazil’s Taina Bigi & Victoria Lopes, but the second was very competitive. The Latvians not only recovered from a 7-2 deficit, but also mastered an 18-15 lead of their own before the South Americans stormed down the final stretch to claim the set in overtime. In the tie-breaker, the lead also went back and forth, from 9-6 in favour of Tina & Anastasija to 11-9 Taina & Victoria’s way, before the home team prevailed in the money time for a victory. Tina was the best scorer of the match with 27 points, including four kill blocks and four aces.

Tina/Anastasija (LAT) vs. Tainá/Victoria (BRA) - Final 3rd Place #5013002

Tina in attack during the bronze medal match

Straight-set victories were registered in both semifinals earlier on Sunday. First, Melissa & Brandie delivered a upset of Tina & Anastasija on a 16-point contribution from each of the two Canadian players. Tina topped the chart of the match with 19 points, including four blocks and an ace. Then, Esmee & Zoe mastered a shutout of Taina & Victoria. The top-scorer honours of the game were shared by the two Swiss players with 15 points apiece. Esmee impressed with four kill blocks and two aces, while Zoe scored three times directly from the serving line.