Volleyball Empowerment supported Alvarez and Moreno win first Challenge medal

The 21-year-old Spaniards earned Beach Pro Tour bronze in Goa

Daniela Alvarez and Tania Moreno (pictured in the main photo; credits: Beach Pro Tour Goa Facebook) reached a new milestone in their journey as a pair, earning their first Challenge-level medal on the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. Supported by the FIVB Volleyball Empowerment programme, the 21-year-old Spaniards claimed bronze at last week’s Goa Challenge in India, lining up just behind experienced teams like winners Joana Mader and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland and runners-up Karla Borger and Sandra Ittlinger of Germany.

Three European teams secured spots on the men’s podium in Goa too: Austria’s Robin Seidl and Moritz Pristauz with gold, Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira with silver and England’s Joaquin Bello and Javier Bello with bronze.

Alvarez and Moreno are among the beneficiaries of a total amount of CHF 180,000 that Volleyball Empowerment has so far allocated as coach support for Spanish women’s beach volleyball. Steered by Brazilian coach Marco Pires Albuquerque, they entered the Goa main draw as the fourth-seeded team and finished Pool D runners-up to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. They then managed a 2-1 (21-19, 19-21, 15-12) upset of second-seeded Lezana Placette and Alexia Richard of France in the round of 16 and a 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) sweep of their quarterfinal against prominent compatriots Liliana Fernаndez and Paula Soria. After a 2-0 (21-13, 21-19) semifinal setback against Borger and Ittlinger, Alvarez and Moreno bounced back with a 2-0 (21-10, 21-16) victory over Thailand’s Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee and Taravadee Naraphornrapat in the bronze medal match.

It was the second Beach Pro Tour podium for the young Spanish duo. They earned their first medal at the Futures level last year in Balikesir. Their recent development has also resulted in a continental U22 title in 2022, a silver medal at this year’s senior CEV European Championship and a sustained spot among the top 30 in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Ranking.

By winning the Goa Challenge tournament, two-time Olympians and Tokyo 2020 bronze medallists Mader and Verge-Depre celebrated their first Beach Pro Tour medal. Seeded seventh in the main draw bracket, 32-year-old Mader and 31-year-old Verge-Depre went through their Goa campaign undefeated, losing only two sets in the six matches played. The Swiss won their semifinal encounter with Worapeerachayakorn and Naraphornrapat in straight sets, 2-0 (24-22, 21-15), and triumphed as gold medallists after another 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) sweep of the final against 12th-seeded Borger and Ittlinger.

The German pairing of 34-year-old two-time Olympian Borger and 29-year-old Ittlinger settled for silver, which was also the first Beach Pro Tour medal for them as a duo. They started the tournament in Goa with a three-set loss to China’s Lin MeiMei and Zeng Jinjin, but then went on an impeccable run of four consecutive straight-set victories to reach the final.

33-year-old Olympian Robin Seidl and his current partner, 27-year-old Moritz Pristauz, had an impressive journey to their first Beach Pro Tour gold as a pair, starting from the qualifiers in Goa and going through as many as eight matches to reach the top of the podium. The Austrians started their main draw campaign with a loss, but won the next six games in a row. The last two were particularly dramatic. In the semifinals, Seidl and Pristauz came back from a set down to take a 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-13) win over Bello and Bello. In the final, they came back not only from a set down, but also from a quintuple match point their opponents had at 14-9 in the tie-breaker, to celebrate a nail-biting 2-1 (18-21, 21-16, 17-15) victory over Herrera and Gavira. It was the Austrian pair’s second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the bronze they earned at the La Paz Challenge in March.

41-year-old five-time Olympian and Athens 2004 silver medallist Pablo Herrera and 36-year-old three-time Olympian Adrian Gavira dropped only a set along the way to the final and were just a point away from claiming their second Beach Pro Tour gold, after winning the La Paz event, but had to settle for silver. In the semifinals, the third-seeded Spaniards mastered a 2-0 (21-16, 21-17) victory over Germany’s Lukas Pfretzschner and Sven Winter.

The 23-year-old Bello twins from England went on to win their first Challenge-level medal after a forfeit win over Pfretzschner and Winter in the bronze medal match. Their only previous medal on the Tour was a 2022 Cortegaca Futures bronze.

A total of 80 teams representing 25 different countries from all five continental confederations took part in the Goa Challenge.

Beach Pro Tour 2023 full event schedule