By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In what is fast becoming one of the most captivating rivalries in beach volleyball, on Sunday, February 19th, Brazilian beach volleyball legend Larissa and teammate Talita faced off against fellow Brazilians, Olympic silver medalist Ágatha and 18-year-old phenom Duda.
The match was in the finals of the Circuito Brasileiro de Voleibol de Praia (Brazilian Beach Volleyball Circuit) in Maceió, Alagoas.
Though the pair struggled early on, Larissa and Talita were able to pull out an impressive two sets to none (21-18, 21-16) victory to secure their third straight Brazilian Beach Volleyball Circuit championship.
It was the second time in seven days that this foursome has clashed in a major beach volleyball tournament final, as just last Sunday (February 12th), Larissa and Talita defeated Ágatha and Duda to win the championship of the Swatch Major Series in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Perhaps, spurred on by last week’s loss, Ágatha and Duda started yesterday’s match strong. Thanks to commanding shot selection, the duo jumped out to a 12-9 lead in the first set.
Larissa and Talita stormed back to tie the game at 14-14, but the turning point of the first set would come at 17-17 when Larissa and Talita coach Reis Castro called a timeout. The duo came out of the timeout with a strong counterattack, allowing them to close out the first set 21-18.
Larissa and Talita came out after the break determined to finish the match without having to play a decisive third set. The duo took a 14-12 in the second set and following a block and decisive attack, extended the lead to 17-14.
A timeout from Ágatha and Duda coach Letícia Pessoa was too little too late as Larissa and Talita dominated the remainder of the second set for the 21-16 win.
“We are very happy … we knew it would be difficult, any team that goes to the finals has quality, we play strong, united all the time, “exclaimed and emotional Larissa after the match. “To be a three-time champion with Talita and a Brazilian record-holder, there are many emotions.”
In addition to the Olympic bronze medal in London 2012, Larissa is the most decorated beach volleyball player in the world with sixty FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) gold medals.
With yesterday’s championship in the Brazilian Beach Volleyball Circuit, her third straight with Talita, Larissa is also the winningest player in tournament history, winning it an unprecedented nine times.
The 2016/2017 Brazilian Beach Volleyball Circuit season is organized by the CBV (Brazilian Beach Volleyball Confederation) and consists of nine stages played throughout Brazil.
So far, the tournament has held matches in Campo Grande, Brasília, Uberlândia, Curitiba, São José, João Pessoa, and now, Maceió. The tournament will next stop in Aracaju in March, before ending the season in Vitória in April.