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BEACH: Mel & Sarah Headed to Final after All Canadian Semi-Final Clash

Sarah Pavan & Melissa Humana-Paredes are on the hunt for their first FIVB Gold of the year, after topping Heather Bansley & Brandie Wilkerson in a see-saw 3-setter, 10-21, 21-16, 15-5 at the Itapema 4-Star in Brazil.

Heather & Brandie got the first shot, picking up where they left off lasts year in Las Vegas by dominating the first - but after falling in a heart-breaker last weekend in Huntington, you could tell Mel & Sarah were ready for a little comeback of their own - pulling all the momentum and dominating the next two to book their spot in tomorrow’s final.

Anyone want to take a second to realize how far beach volleyball as come in Canada? Yeah another all-Canada semi-final clash sucks - but a rivalry between to of the world’s elite is normal, and even expected.

Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes and USA’s April Ross/Alix Klineman will meet for the second time in as many weeks as the tandems have advanced to the gold medal match of the Itapema Open, the Brazilian four-star event of the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.

Canadians and Americans have faced each other in the final match of the USA’s domestic tour, the AVP, just two weeks ago in Huntington Beach. The duel in California, which was won by Ross and Klineman, was one of the four meetings between the teams so far with each of them prevailing twice.

The final game of the women’s tournament at the Meia Praia will be played on Sunday morning, just a few hours after the bronze medal match, which will feature Canada’s Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson and the Netherlands’ Marleen van Iersel/Joy Stubbe. 

Sarah and Melissa turn things around twice

Pavan and Melissa had a Saturday with plenty of turnarounds in Itapema as the Canadians lost the first set in both of their matches at the Meia Praia and were in the verge of being eliminated from the tournament twice. In their quarterfinal game, they came from behind to defeat USA’s Kerri Walsh Jennings and Brooke Sweat 15-21, 21-12, 15-10.

In the semifinal, the finalists started trailing again, but managed to bounce back in great style, prevailing over Brandie and Bansley 10-21, 21-16, 15-5. It was the fifth victory of Sarah and Melissa over their compatriots in seven international meetings so far.

“We started out really bad, but I’m really proud about how we forgot the first set after it happened,” Pavan commented. “We made some adjustments and then we dominated the next two. We stayed very calm and very steady and Melissa was digging everything, she was very steady the whole game. There’s always some tension there, but I’m very proud that we managed to win today.”

Mel and Sarah will be playing in their seventh World Tour gold medal match, having won three of the first six – Porec in 2017 and Gstaad and Xiamen in 2018.