The inaugural Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour event in Tlaxcala, Mexico last week marked the start of the international beach volleyball season. It also set the stage for the first impressive individual performances of the season from some of the top players in the world.
Brazilian Carol Salgado was among the women’s tournament’s standouts as the 34-year-old veteran contributed to her team’s victory, alongside Rio 2016 Olympic silver medallist Barbara Seixas.
The 1.78m-tall Carol played like a giant at the net and ended the Tlaxcala Challenge with more blocks than any other woman that competed at the Plaza de la Constitucion. She had 24 blocks in six matches, holding a significant advantage over the second-best blocker of the tournament, compatriot Hegeile ‘Hege’ Santos, who stopped her opponents 19 times.
Carol’s blocking was particularly important in the final, when she won the battle at the net with 1.94m-tall Dutch Katja Stam, outscoring her opponent by five points to three.
The Brazilian was also the best server among the women, registering 11 aces during the week. No team served better than Germans Chantal Laboureur and Sarah Schulz, however, who had 19 aces between them.
Arguably the most impressive individual serving performance of the tournament though came from a player who didn’t win a single match in Tlaxcala. The younger sister of reigning European champion Nina Betschart, 21-year-old Swiss Mara fired as many as nine aces in a qualifier match in which partner Shana Zobrist and she fell to Dutch Emi van Driel and Pleun Ypma.
Stam ended the week as the top scorer of the Mexican tournament. The 23-year-old Dutch Olympian had more attack points than anyone at 105 and added 14 blocks and eight aces for a total of 127 points.
On the men’s side, Chileans Noe Aravena and Vicente Droguett played more matches than anyone, taking to the court nine times between Wednesday’s qualifier and Sunday’s gold medal match.
Unsurprisingly, the Chileans ranked first and second in points scored among the men, with the 21-year-old Droguett registering 149 (111 attacks, 29 blocks, nine aces) and the 19-year-old Aravena notching 139 (128 kills, nine aces and two blocks).
Droguett ranked first in both blocks and aces, trailed by Polish Olympian Michal Bryl, who produced 21 blocks in his gold medal match campaign, and tied with Aravena in the second category at nine aces apiece.
Droguett’s blocking was surprisingly effective for a player who stands at 1.88m
Paul Burnett was another prominent new face in Tlaxcala. Playing in his first international tournament with Tokyo Olympian Chris McHugh, the 24-year-old Australian had 115 kills and a 60.85% efficiency rate, both results putting him in the list of the event’s best.
This week, the Beach Pro Tour heads to Rosarito, on Mexico’s western coast. Don’t miss the first Elite 16 event of the season, which is sure to provide more spectacular individual performances from the world’s top athletes.
Source: Volleyball World