Canadian duo ousts Olympic beach volleyball champs in Tour Finals semi
Melissa Humana-Paredes overcame a left shoulder injury and teamed with Sarah Pavan for a 21-15, 21-12 semifinal win over 2020 Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman at the FIVB World Tour Finals on Saturday in Italy.
The reigning world champions of women’s beach volleyball are one win away from their first tournament title win of the season.
Toronto’s Melissa Humana-Paredes overcame a left shoulder injury and teamed with Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., for a 21-15, 21-12 semifinal victory over 2020 Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman of the United States at the FIVB World Tour Finals on Saturday in Italy.
The 44-minute match was the Canadian tandem’s first win over Ross and Klineman since September 2019 and avenged a straight-sets loss to the American duo in the AVP Wilson Cup final in July in Long Beach, Calif.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes advance to Sunday’s final at 2:30 p.m. ET in Sardinia against Germany’s Julia Sude and Karla Borger, who defeated Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina in three sets later Saturday.
WATCH | Canadians notch semifinal win in Sardinia:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Semifinals: Canada vs USA
Watch Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes battle the American duo of April Ross and Alix Klineman in the semifinals of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour from Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, Italy. 34:06
Pavan and Humana-Paredes improved their tourney record to 5-0 and have lost only one set in the process.
“I think we are getting into a groove … so I’m excited about what’s to come,” Humana-Paredes told Volleyball World after beating Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil two sets to one in their final pool match on Friday to improve to 4-0 and gain a bye to the semifinals.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan were leading 3-2 in the opening set on Saturday when Canada needed a medical timeout for the former to receive treatment on her left shoulder.
The right-handed player returned to the court a few minutes later and didn’t favour the shoulder for the balance of the match.
WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes down U.S. duo in quarter-finals:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals: Canada vs. USA
Watch Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes take on Americans Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil in the main draw of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals from Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia, Italy. 56:09
Big challenge win
It rained heavily early in the set as the teams exchanged points before a Pavan kill opened a 14-11 advantage for the Canadians, who entered the tournament ranked second to the U.S. on the Tour.
Minutes earlier, Pavan won a challenge when she contested an ace from Ross was out of bounds that would have tied the match 9-9.
Pavan used her six-foot-five frame to dominate at the net and extend the Canadian lead to 17-13 and 20-14.
After Humana-Paredes served long, she ended the set with a tip a diving Ross couldn’t reach.
With Canada up 10-8 in the second set, Humana-Paredes dove and extended her right arm to keep a rally alive before Pavan scored a point off the block.
Later, Ross didn’t receive a Pavan serve properly that allowed Canada to take a 14-9 lead.
A Pavan kill to the back of the court made it 17-9 before Humana-Paredes delivered one of Canada’s six aces on the day to make it 19-10.
Ross and Klineman placed ninth in their lone previous World Tour Final two years ago in Rome, where they were eliminated in the first round by Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic.
Besides uncharacteristic mistakes in Saturday’s contest, Ross and Klineman dropped two three-setters on Day 1 of play on Wednesday and went 2-2 in pool play.
They still have an opportunity to win their ninth career FIVB medal in Sunday’s bronze-medal match against Makroguzova and Kholomina at 12 p.m. ET. But Saturday’s loss ended a streak of three straight tournament victories that included the Olympics in Tokyo, Manhattan Beach and Chicago.
Their international season began with a title at the 4-star gold event in Doha, Qatar, followed by two bronze in Cancun, Mexico.
You can stream the event on CBCSports.ca, as well as catch coverage on Road to the Olympic Games on CBC TV and CBC Gem.
WATCH | Canadians lose to Ross, Klineman in AVP Wilson Cup final:
Pavan, Humana-Paredes fall in Wilson Cup final
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes dropped a straight sets loss to Alix Klineman and April Ross in Wilson Cup final. 1:06