Photo: FIVB
Photo: FIVB

Canada’s beach volleyball stars ride recent success into world championships

Canada’s top beach volleyball players are ready to hit the sand in Vienna, Austria for the 2017 FIVB World Championships, which run July 28-August 6.

On the women’s side, you can catch the pairing that has been tearing it up lately, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes. Most recently, they earned themselves a silver medal at the FIVB World Tour 4-star stop in Olsztyn, Poland.

Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada, right, plays a ball next to her teammate Sarah Pavan of Canada, left, during a women’s bronze medal match against Switzerland’s Anouk Verge-Depre and Switzerland’s Joana Heidrich, at the Beach Volleyball World Tour Major Series, Saturday, July 8, 2017 in Gstaad, Switzerland . (Anthony Anex/Keystone via AP)

RELATED: World Tour silver for Pavan and Humana-Paredes in Poland.

The duo kicked off their first season together with a second place finish at the 4-star event in Rio de Janeiro. After that they went on to win a gold and bronze at the 5-star Major Series events in Croatia and Switzerland on back-to-back weekends at the start of July.

RELATED: Season debut silver for Pavan and Humana-Paredes at Rio Open
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RELATED: Pavan and Humana-Paredes win bronze at Swiss Major

Heather Bansley, who had been Pavan’s partner for four years, culminating in their appearance at Rio 2016, will also be competing at the worlds with Brandie Wilkerson. Another fresh pairing, Bansley and Wilkerson have made a name for themselves on the international scene with their second place finish at a NORCECA continental circuit stop in La Paz, Mexico. They also reached the third round of the World Tour 3-star stop in The Hague, Netherlands.

Continuing the cycle of switching partners, Wilkerson’s partner through the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Julie Gordon, will be in Vienna with Camille Saxton. Meanwhile, Humana-Paredes’ previous partner of four years, Taylor Pischke will be competing for the first time with Rio Olympian Jamie Broder. Pishcke had competed all season with Broder’s Olympic partner Kristina May (formerly Valjas), but they did not have enough entry points to be eligible for the world championships. However, a Broder-Pischke partnership had those necessary points, thanks to Broder having won the 2016 NORCECA Tour Finals with Humana-Paredes.

Canada’s Sam Schachter sets a ball during a men’s beach volleyball match against Brazil at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

On the men’s side, the Sam-squared duo of Sam Pedlow and Rio 2016 Olympian Sam Schachter will hit the court hoping to build on their recent second place finish at the World Series of Beach Volleyball. A week earlier they had made it to the third round of the 5-star World Tour event in Gstaad, Switzerland. The pair first got together at the end of the 2016 season, winning the NORCECA Tour Finals in Trinidad and Tobago.

Canada’s Ben Saxton, left, and Chaim Schalk celebrate a point over Brazil during a men’s beach volleyball match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rio Olympic partners Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk will also be competing. They achieved their biggest career highlights leading up to the Games, when they snagged themselves bronze medals at Major Series events in Croatia and Austria.

Rounding out the Canadian contingent is Aaron Nusbaum and Ryan Vandenburg, who are reuniting after not playing together since the end of April.

Four of the eight Canadian pairings are set to play on the opening day. Kick-starting the tournament will be Pavan and Humana-Paredes, currently tied for second in the World Tour rankings, against Manon Nummerdor-Flier and Marleen Ramond-Van Iersel of the Netherlands who are ranked 33rd.