The announcement from the Brazilian Volleyball Federation that the country’s beach volleyball tour will restart in September after being suspended for the last five months has prompted the formation of several new teams in the country.
The most intriguing of the new partnerships is perhaps the one reuniting FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour veteran Taiana Lima and two-time volleyball Olympic champion Paula Pequeno.
The 38-year-old Paula transitioned to the beach last year to pair with fellow former indoor star Mari Steinbrecher but after playing in their first Brazilian Tour event together last March they decided to split and join more experienced beach players.
In Taiana, Paula will find a 15-year World Tour veteran, who was already won 18 international medals – six golds, eight silvers and four bronzes – and finished second at the 2015 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. The 36-year-old defender was most recently playing with Fernanda Berti, who decided to take some time away from beach volleyball.
“She called me asking if we could practice together and as the days went by I thought she would be a good fit for what I was looking for now,” Taiana explained.
“Her goals really motivated me and I felt we had a good connection. The possibility of exchanging experiences with such a storied athlete was too appealing. I’m moved by challenges and this is a new one for me.
I know I need to be patient to help her in the best way I can, but I’m super excited to make it work.”
The 36-year-old Mari, who was part of Brazil’s roster that won the volleyball gold medal at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, is yet to announce her new partner.
The men’s field will also see some important changes with 2013 FIVB U-21 World Championship gold medallist Guto Carvalhaes joining 22-year-old blocker Arthur da Silva, who has played in only World Tour event so far, finishing fifth at a 1-star tournament in Miguel Pereira, Brazil, last August.
“My main goal is to qualify for the Olympics and I know it will take serious and consistent work to get there,” Guto reflected. “Over the last year my coach and I analyzed several players we thought would fit what we’re looking for in terms of a partner and Arthur really stood out as he’s as hungry and focused as I am. I’ve never been so confident about a team and we’re already working towards the first steps of development we need to accomplish.”
Guto’s former partner, 34-year-old veteran Pedro Solberg has also decided to join a younger partner for the restart. The blocker, who won 19 World Tour gold medals between 2005 and 2020, will now have 25-year-old Vinicius Freitas as his teammate.
Other World Tour regulars who will return to the sand with new partners are 29-year-old Vitor Felipe, who will have U-19 and U-21 world champion Arthur Lanci by his side, and 26-year-old Saymon Barbosa, who will share the courts with 41-year-old veteran Hevaldo Sabino.
The Brazilian Tour season will start on September 17 with the women playing for four days at the federation’s training center, in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro. The following week it will be the men who take to the sand at the same location.
The second event of the season will be played at the same location in October with women (15-18) and men (22-25) playing in different weeks again.
Three more events will be played in November and December with locations yet to be determined.