Photo: FIVB
Photo: FIVB

Canadians move closer to the medals at beach volleyball world championships

It was a huge day for a couple of Canadian teams at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, including advancement to a medal match and a major upset.

Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes will play for the bronze medal after dropping their semifinal showdown with Americans April Ross and Lauren Fendrick in three sets. The Canadians took the opener 21-19 but couldn’t hold off the team that earlier in the day had eliminated Canada’s other quarterfinalists, Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley. Ross and Fendrick closed it out 21-16 and 15-11.

“The things we did very well all tournament, that match we didn’t, » Pavan told FIVB after the match. « I can’t take anything away from them. They played very well. But it’s hard to swallow when we know we weren’t good today. We’re going to prepare hard tonight and do everything we can tomorrow because we do want to be on the podium. »

« We usually put them in trouble with our serves and we’re able to turn a lot of points, » Humana-Paredes added. « In the second and third sets we weren’t really doing that unfortunately. They played amazing. They were able to transition and turn a lot of balls and made it hard for me to sideout. They were just good grinders and great fighters. They were definitely moving it around and were hard to read, unfortunately. »

Bump set by Canada’s Sarah Pavan at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (FIVB)

The bronze medal match against top-seeded Larissa Franca Maestrini and Talita Da Rocha Antunes of Brazil will take place on Saturday at 7:15 am ET.

« We lost a really close one to them in Poland and we’re going to use that as motivation, we’re going to use today as motivation, » Pavan continued. « We worked really hard this week, we played some great volleyball. It sucks that we didn’t play our best in the semifinal but if we can end this week on the podium and represent Canada up there, when all is said and done and this emotion is put away, I think we’ll be able to be real happy about it.”

Those two sets against the Americans were the first that Pavan and Humana-Paredes had lost all tournament. They had started Friday with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) win over second seeds Julia Sude and Chantal Laboureur of Germany in the quarterfinals.

Sarah Pavan (r) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (l) celebrate their quarterfinal win at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (Photo: FIVB)

“Those two (Laboureur/Sude) are a pair of fighters out there, they never give up, » Pavan was quoted by the FIVB after the quarterfinal match. « They’re crafty, they’re scrappy and we wanted to make that even if they made great plays that we didn’t let that rattle us and we stayed with our game plan. Melissa played fantastic in the backcourt, she was reading everything and digging all their shots which I think made them a little frustrated. We kept them off the net a little bit with our serve and when they weren’t in system that caused them problems.”

Melissa Humana-Paredes digs a ball during the quarterfinals at the 2017 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships (Photo: FIVB)

In Friday’s first match, Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk stunned Brazilians Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt, the reigning Olympic and world champions, by winning their round of 16 match in three sets. The Canadians took the opener but the Brazilians were able to tie it up, sending it to a decider which was won 15-13 by Saxton and Schalk. That sends them into Saturday’s quarterfinals, where they will face another Brazilian pair, Andre Loyola Stein and Evandro Goncalves Oliveira Junior at 4:00 am ET.

« We stayed strong. We didn’t let them get a big rally against us, and it ended up coming down to the wire, » Saxton was quoted by the FIVB. « This is up there [for biggest victories]. This is our second time in the quarterfinals at the world championships, and they are the reigning Olympic champions… This feels awesome but we are already focused on the next one. We just beat the team with the most experience in a high-pressure situation, and if we can beat them, we can beat anyone.”

Canada’s other male duo still competing, Sam Pedlow and Sam Schachter, were unable to join them in the quarters, dropping a 2-0 decision to Russians Nikita Liamin and Viacheslav Krasilnikov.