Magnificent Bansley & Wikerson claim gold at the Chetumal Open
Chetumal, Mexico, October 28, 2018 – World ranking leaders Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson remain in excellent form as the Canadians dominated the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour three-star Chetumal Open on Sunday, claiming their second gold medal in as many weeks after their recent triumph at the Las Vegas Open presented by p1440.
The Canadians were flanked on the podium by a pair of American teams – silver medalists Caitlin Ledoux and Geena Urango, who they defeated in straights sets 2-0 (21-12, 21-13) in the gold medal match, and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat, who finished third in the Mexican coastal city.
The last act of Bansley’s and Wilkerson’s schedule in 2018 was a genuine reflection of the successful year they had in international competition. After they won their first World Tour medal, a bronze at the four-star Itapema Open in May, the duo secured five other medals, including three golds, making their way up to the top of the world rankings.
The victory gave the Canadians another 600 points in the Olympic qualification process, catapulting them to the second spot in the Olympic rankings.
“It’s been a long two weeks, we’re exhausted, but we really wanted to win today, that was our goal coming here,” Bansley said. “We came here to get some valuable Olympic qualification points and this is a big win for us. The fans were amazing, they pushed us all the way to the final and it was a really special tournament.”
The Canadians were dominant in the final, keeping the American qualifiers under control for most of the match. However, their chemistry and limited number of mistakes granted them a comfortable victory in the end.
“We came in knowing that they were a good team and that they played a great tournament,” Wilkerson added. “We just made sure that we wouldn’t make many mistakes and that we would keep our actions, such as serving and hitting choices, all under control. At the end of the day, it’s always about what we do in our end of the court.”
Walsh Jennings and Sweat grab first medal together
Playing in just their second tournament together, Walsh Jennings and Sweat collected their first medal as they finished third in Chetumal after a come-from-behind 2-1 (16-21, 21-8, 15-10) victory over the McNamara twins Megan and Nicole of Canada in the bronze medal match.
It was also the first World Tour medal for the three-time Olympic champion Walsh Jennings since she won the Long Beach stop in August 2016 with former partner April Ross. The recent success encouraged the veterans about their next steps.
“I’m very proud,” Walsh Jennings said. “It’s just our second tournament and we are still figuring out how to play with each other. Losing always hurts, but for us to be able to come back and win our first medal against a very good team, it’s really special. We hope we can keep improving and winning more medals.”
The World Tour will now have a one-month break before the last event of the 2018 calendar year, a one-star double-gender indoor tournament in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from November 29 to December 2.