09_BPT Rosarito - Women Gold Medal Match - NEDvsLAT

After winning back-to-back medals, Stam and Schoon moved up to second place in the world rankings

Dutch rising stars Raisa Schoon and Katja Stam will be among the top attractions of the second Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event, which will take place in Itapema, Brazil, from April 14-17.

The Europeans are among the names that stood out when the entry lists for the women’s tournament were released and are immediately considered one of the favourites to take gold at the Meia Praia Beach next week.

· Watch all the matches of the Itapema Challenge live or on demand on Volleyball TV.

The 20-year-old Schoon and the 23-year-old Stam are the only team to have played in the gold medal matches of the first two events of the recently-started 2022 international season, having finished second in the Tlaxcala Challenge and first at the Rosarito Elite16.

The fastest rising women’s team in international beach volleyball right now, the Tokyo Olympians are currently placed second in the FIVB World Ranking and could end the tournament in Itapema occupying the top spot on the list.

They will not, however, be the top-seeded team in the women’s tournament in Itapema, ranking sixth on the entry list. The first spot belongs to Swiss Tokyo Olympians Tanja Huberli and Nina Brunner. The reigning European champions finished 13th at the Rosarito Elite16 event in March and will be looking for a better result in Brazil.

The same can be said about the teams seeded second and third in Itapema. Australian Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho and Americans Sarah Sponcil and Terese Cannon didn’t break pool in Rosarito and will try to get a different outcome when they hit the sand in Brazil.

Hosts Brazil have six women’s teams secured in the main draw, three of which are seeded in the top ten in veterans Barbara Seixas and Carol Salgado (fourth), Olympians Talita Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti (fifth) and up-and-comers Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitoria Rodrigues (eighth). Barbara and Carol took gold at the Tlaxcala Challenge while Talita and Rebecca stepped on to the podium in third place at the Rosarito Elite16.

The United States also have multiple teams guaranteed a place in the main draw with Sara Hughes/Kelley Kolinske ranking ninth and Lauren Fendrick/Emily Stockman seeded tenth. Duos from Germany, Japan, Austria and Italy complete the list of countries which have an automatic main draw spot due to their entry points.

The women’s qualifier in Itapema will also feature high profile names, starting with Canadian Olympian Brandie Wilkerson, who won bronze medals in the Brazilian city in 2018 and 2019 with former partner Heather Bansley. The 29-year-old blocker has just started a new partnership with Sophie Bukovec and the Canadians will try to take a step forward after failing to advance from the qualifier in Tlaxcala in their first tournament as partners.

Three other Olympians are listed to compete in the qualifier in Itapema in Argentineans Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra and Czech Barbora Hermannova, who started a new team with Marie-Sara Stochlova after the Tokyo Olympics.

The event in Brazil will also mark the first tournament of Sandra Ittlinger and Isabel Schneider as partners. The Germans had success in the 2021 King of the Court Finals, but are yet to compete on the same side of the court on the Beach Pro Tour.

The Itapema Challenge will feature women’s teams from 22 different countries and among the players set to compete in Brazil are three Olympic medallists and 19 Olympians.

The event starts on Thursday 14th with the 32-team qualifier, from which eight duos will emerge and move on to Friday’s main draw. The main draw will begin with a modified pool play system for the 24 teams, with 18 of them making it to Saturday’s elimination round. The medal matches will end the event on Sunday.