Canada’s women’s beach volleyball world title ended in Rome on Sunday.
Second-placed Eduarda (Duda) Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos of Brazil, who won three junior titles together, secured their first at senior level after beating Toronto’s Sophie Bukovec and Brandi Wilkerson 21-17, 21-19 in an entertaining gold – Medal game in the Foro Italico.
Competing at their first FIVB Beach Worlds, Wilkerson and Bukovec were seeded 20th in the tournament, trying to follow the 2019 champions and their Canadian compatriots Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, who lost to Duda and Ana Patricia in the quarterfinals were fifth overall.
In Sunday’s bronze matchup, Svenja Muller and Cinja Tillman of Germany were awarded victory after Anouk Vergé-Depré and Joana Heidrich of Switzerland were forced to pull out of the match and lead in the second set when Heidrich picked up an injury had moved.
Meanwhile, Wilkerson’s best finish in her two previous World Championship appearances was fifth in Vienna in 2017.
“We came here to win, just like everyone else, but doing that helps you or hurts you,” Wilkerson told volleyballworld.com after Saturday’s three-set semifinal win over Tillman and Muller.
“I think a big thing for us is just to enjoy a good level of volleyball and if that means we end up winning, that’s great.”
CLOCK | Bukovec/Wilkerson win the silver medal as partners in the 1st world tournament:
Worlds was only the fourth tournament together for Bukovec and Wilkerson, who became partners on the court in February after the latter parted ways with Heather Bansley.
They went undefeated in pool play, defeating Switzerland, Italy, the United States and France, and eliminating Thailand and Italy before Saturday.
The Canadians faced a tough test against Duda and Ana Patricia, who played in their third and second worlds respectively, but neither had finished higher than ninth place prior to this year.
After Duda and Ana Patricia took a 14-10 lead in the second set, the Canadians even drew after Duda last touched the ball in a net fight with Wilkerson before an Ana Patricia shot went wide.
Brazil took a two-point lead again only to watch Canada split the set 16-16 when Wilkerson turned down an offer from Ana Patricia. The Canadian started Sunday’s tournament second behind Ana Patricia.
Bukovec and Wilkerson then took the lead, but Brazil won the next three points after a time-out. Bukovec reduced the deficit to one with a shot deep into court, but Ana Patricia scored a point outside the block to win the set.
Brazil built a 7-2 lead in the opening set and never gave up the lead.
Duda and Ana Patricia led 15-9 with up to six before the Canadians called a time-out.
They tried to get back into the set and closed 19-16 after two outstanding defensive plays by Bukovec after a top shot from Wilkerson inside the touchline.
But a Wilkerson block went wide and sapped the Canadians’ momentum, and Duda finished the set with a smart roll shot, which she sent in the opposite direction.
“I’m happy with the progress we’ve made in every game,” said Ana Patricia ahead of Sunday’s final. “We will fight with all our strength for the gold medal, which would be very important for our team.”
CLOCK | Bukovec and Wilkerson vs. Brazil: