Bansley and Pavan lose semi at World Tour Finals

Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan‘s hopes of capturing the $100,000 World Tour Finals first-prize ended on Saturday after a 2-0 (21-19, 21-12) loss to top Brazilians Larissa and Talita.

The first set was super entertaining for the Ft. Lauderdale crowd, point-for-point almost the entire way, until a long serve by Sarah Pavan gave the Brazilians a 19-17 lead. The Canadians couldn’t close that gap, or the 4-0 lead they spotted their no. 2 ranked opponents in the second set.

“We didn’t stop them on our defence, they were making the shots that they wanted to. We had a really hard time scoring points,” Bansley told Nils Kopke for

The difference was partially Brazilian experience and Bansley/Pavan committing six of their eight faults in the second set. It was the Canadian’s second loss to the Brazilian pair in as many days, adding to a pool defeat on Friday.

The bright spot was impressive defending by Toronto’s Heather Bansley, using supreme athleticism to shrink the court and keep balls in play.

Heather Bansley saves a point in athletic fashion during a semifinal at the 2015 World Tour Finals in Ft. Lauderdale. (Photo: FIVB)

Heather Bansley saves a point in athletic fashion during a semifinal at the 2015 World Tour Finals in Ft. Lauderdale. (Photo: FIVB)

The Brazilians managed six aces to Canada’s one, and held 6’5″ Sarah Pavan to a single block.

Canada will now play for bronze on Sunday, and still have a chance to win $30,000 against either Agatha/Barbara of Brazil or Germany’s Ludwig/Walkenhorst.

“We came here to get on the podium. We just need to turn around like we did yesterday after we lost to them (Larissa/Talita) and focus on that bronze medal match,” said Bansley.

The World Tour Finals features the top-10 teams in each gender, competing for a total of $500,000 in prize money, the season’s largest-purse.

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Two other Canadian teams played in Florida. Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas were 0-and-4 in pool play while Ben Saxton and Sam Schalk went 1-and-3. Neither advanced to the quarterfinals.

Friday, October 2 – Quarterfinal vs. Ross/Fendrick 

Canada’s Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan knocked off top-seeded American pair April Ross and Lauren Fendrick 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) in a quarterfinal at World Tour Finals.

The Canadians as the no. 3 seed took the first set 21-15 with mean blocks. Pavan’s 6’5″ frame was helpful on defence or attack over either 6’1″ American. While Pavan has played the majority of her volleyball indoor, she now calls the beach home.

Heather Bansley

Heather Bansley digs a ball in earlier World Tour Finals action.

April Ross is a silver medallist from London 2012, she and her partner Lauren Fendrick are both 33 year-olds.

The Canadians, who were 2-and-2 in pool play, will now move to a semifinal against Brazilians Larissa/Talita. The Brazilians are the no. 2 team in the world right now. That game is on Saturday.

This is the inaugural World Tour Finals, not unlike the similarly named ATP event in tennis. It has a $500,000 purse, including a winner’s prize of $100,000.

Bansley and Pavan have been Canada’s most consistent team – male or female – in 2015. They have four World Tour medals, including a silver and bronze at Majors (the highest-level tour stop). They are the no. 3 team on the World Tour at the moment, but they won’t move up. No FIVB points are awarded for this tournament.