Canada's Sophie Bukovec, left, and Wilkerson Brandie celebrate after winning a point during the women's match between Canada and Switzerland at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome, Friday, June 10, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Beach volleyball: Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec are vice world champions

Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec claim a pair of silver medals at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome, Italy on Sunday. In just their fourth tournament together, the duo climbed the second step of the podium after falling to Brazil’s Eduarda (Duda) Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos.

With a perfect record of seven wins leading up to the gold medal match, the Canadians did not experience the same success in the final match as their reign of supremacy came to an end. Brazil won the championship in straight sets of 21-16, 21-19. Nevertheless, Wilkerson and Bukovec had a tough fight against their opponents, where a few small details made all the difference.

Visibly nervous, the Canadians did not get off to a strong start, dropping seven of the game’s first nine points. Wilkerson and Bukovec gradually found their rhythm, but the gap was too difficult to overcome in the first set. The second was a much better show of good exchanges and strong attacks. The two teams went neck and neck until Brazil won three in a row to take a 14-10 lead.

After recovering their serve, Canada managed a challenge on the next point. While the referee had awarded the point to the Brazilians, Wilkerson asked for a review for a final touch on the net. The video replay proved her right and the gap was only a single point, rather than three. The Canadians followed that up with two more straight points to take the lead for the first time in the game. The momentum seemed to have changed sides.

However, Duda and Ana Patricia took a timeout to cut the pace. They won the next two rallies to regain the lead and then confirmed their victory a few minutes later on an efficient attack from Ana Patricia.

In Saturday’s semifinals, Canada dominated the first set, but Germany’s Svenja Müller and Cinja Tillmann stormed back in the second set to force a tie-break. In the end, Germany could not hold off Canada’s pressure and early lead. Canada won 2-1 (15-21, 21-15, 12-15) to land in the gold medal match.

In the other women’s semifinal match, Brazil’s Duda Lisboa and Ana Patricia Ramos defeated Heidrich and Vergé-Dépré of Switzerland 2-0 (21-19, 21-13) to earn the opportunity to play for gold.

This marks the second consecutive time that Canada has a team in the finals of the women’s World Championships. In 2019, Olympians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes won the championship in identical straight sets of 23-21, 23-21 for Canada’s first-ever medal in the tournament.

READ: Pavan and Humana-Paredes claim beach volleyball world title

Pavan and Humana-Paredes were eliminated by Duda and Ana Patrícia in Friday’s quarterfinals. They finished fifth in the tournament standings.