It’s no surprise, considering she was an FIVB age-group world champion six times and she has 13 World Tour titles.
Collecting her 14th medal in 30 events as a partner of Agatha Bednarczuk just might have been the breakthrough that the rest of the tour has been fearing.
With a bronze medal in the FIVB A1 Vienna Major presented by Swatch on the line against fellow Brazilians Taiana Lima and Talita Antunes, Duda and Agatha trailed by six points with a third set looming, the 36-year-old Agatha stopped talking.
How did they turn that deficit into a 2-0 (31-29, 21-19) victory?
“Until that point, I was talking to Duda a lot about the game,” Agatha said. “Since that moment, I stayed a little quiet and let her think about the game. She decided what she needed to do.
“Normally because of the difference in our age, I’m talking to her about the game and what she needs to do. She needs to decide what the game needs and I think she is learning and she is starting to do what she needs to do.”
Duda caught Talita and Taiana with a couple of short serves, which turned into easier defensive and transition opportunities. By the time Duda was finished crushing balls or guiding them to the right spot, she scored eight of her team’s final nine points and that 18-12 deficit was erased.
“I hadn’t had a short serve in the entire tournament, so I said let me just try one and it worked,” Duda said. “I wanted so much to win.
“We had our defense and blocking strategy set up with our coaches before, so all we changed actually was the type of serves.”
The bronze medal was their sixth as a team to go with five golds and two silvers. They were coming off a victory in the Tokyo Open the previous week.
“We started changing the game and she decided this,” Agatha said. She told me continue short serves. I was a good listener, she was my teacher at that moment.
“We were four players on the court, three old ladies and my younger girl.”
It was a heartbreaking finish for Talita and Taiana, who are a new team in 2019 after Talita took a year off for maternity leave.
In the semifinals, Talita and Taiana lost a heartbreaking 2-1 (21-16, 35-37, 15-13) semifinal to the third Brazilian team in the semi-finals, Carolina Solberg and Maria Antonelli. Agatha and Duda were swept away by Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes, 2-0 (21-17, 21-12).
It was the longest match of the year on the FIVB tour (1 hour, 20 minutes) and the second set was the fifth-highest in FIVB history.
“Maybe we are a little bit tired but that’s beside the point,” Talita said. “At this time of course I’m not so happy, but I have to look behind and see what we’re building. I think we did good things this week.”
The bronze match was an hour long and had to be delayed for 53 minutes because of inclement weather. At the time they stopped, it was 28-28 in the first set.
The delay meant the gold medal match was postponed until Sunday morning. Pavan and Humana-Paredes, the reigning World Champions, will be going for their third gold medal of the season and sixth as a team.
“We won Porec, we won Gstaad, we won Hamburg, the only one missing is this one!” Pavan said of their success in Majors.
Carol and Maria Antonelli had to win two qualification matches just to reach the main draw and still haven’t lost in their seven matches in Vienna. It will be their seventh time on the podium together in 29 events and they are trying for their second gold medal as a team.
“My God, it really means a lot to me,” Carol said. “This is for sure my favorite tournament ever. To be in this venue, it’s for these moments why we practice every day and the day you have pain and are tired and away from home, these moments make it worth it.”