May 21, 2017: In their first World Tour event of 2017, Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, ON) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, ON) finished second after a 2-1 (21-14, 13-21, 15-13) battle with Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda “Duda” Santos Lisboa this morning in Rio.
“Even though losing in the final is always tough, Mel and I are very happy with our first tournament together. This is a great start for us as a pair, and we are encouraged even more by the fact that we still have a lot of room to improve,” said Pavan, who was fifth at last year’s Olympics with her former partner (Heather Bansley). “We hope that this will be the first of many podium finishes for us, and our sights will always be set on gold.” Sarah Pavan
After they split the opening two sets, Agatha (2016 Olympic silver medalist) and Duda jumped to a 7-4 lead in the third set before Canada rallied with a five-point run to take a 9-7 lead. The Brazilians fought back to tie it at nine, 11 and 12 with Agatha and Duda gaining a 13-12 lead at the final side switch. After Humana-Paredes and Pavan tied the set at 13, an Agatha kill and block won the gold medal in front for the home team.
The women’s bronze went to the Czech Republic.
With the win, the Brazilians shared the $20,000 first-place prize while Humana-Paredes and Pavan split $16,000 for their silver medal finish. Like the Agatha and Duda, the Canadians were also playing in their second FIVB World Tour event together as the Rio Open was their first appearance as a team in a “points” tournament after playing in a country quota match last September at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto.
Pavan was a silver medalist before with Heather Bansley at 2015 FIVB World Tour stops in the Czech Republic and Croatia. In 2016, Pavan and Bansley finished second to eventual Rio 2016 Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst in Croatia. Humana-Paredes was competing in her first-ever World Tour “final four” in 31 international starts.
It was a respectable three top-ten finishes for Canada at this high-calibre event. Brandie Wilkerson/ Heather Bansley had some strong matches in Rio and finished ninth overall.
On the men’s side, Canada’s Sam Pedlow/ Sam Schachter were also ninth overall; while Mike Plantinga/ Grant O’Gorman and Olympians Ben Saxton/ChaimSchalk were 25th.
Men’s gold went to 2016 Olympic champions Alison Cerutti and Bruno Oscar Schmidt of Brazil – their 12th World Tour title in total.
Story and Photo from Volleyball Canada | Volleyball.ca