BEACH VOLLEYBALL: World champs triumph at home at Edmonton; U.S. takes silvers in Canada and Portugal

Canada's World Beach champs Saran Pavan (l) and Melissa Humana-Paredes (Photo: FIVB)

Fresh from their World Championships victory in Germany, Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes thrilled a home-country audience with a straight-set win in the Edmonton four-star tournament over Americans Betsi Flint and Emily Day.

It was the fourth World Tour medal of the year for Pavan and Humana-Paredes and second win. They were impressive: in their six matches, they won every set (12-0) and were only taken to extra points in their semifinal win, but just to 22-20.

For Flint and Day, it was their first medal since a silver in the Sydney Open back in March; they reversed that score with a win over Australia’s Nicole Laird and Becchara Palmer in the semifinals.

The U.S. had similar success at the four-star tourney in Espinho (POR), with Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil taking the silver after a two-set loss to Russians Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina. It’s the third World Tour medal for Claes and Sponcil, who teamed up only last year; they won a silver in The Hague four-star earlier this year.

Said Claes, “It’s disappointing to come this far and take second. I know we’re a lot better than how we played today. That’s frustrating, but we’re just going to keep working on the things we need to work on and keep getting better. The cool thing about our sport is that we have another opportunity next weekend.”

Makroguzova (22) and Kholomina (21) bear watching for the future; this is their second medal on the World Tour, but winning a four-star is much more impressive than their other medal, a gold in a one-star in 2018.

The men’s final in Espinho was an all-Brazilian affair, featuring a victory for the three-months-old team of Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Morais Filho, who overcame Andre Stein and George Wanderley in three sets: 21-13, 15-21, 15-9.

It’s the second World Tour win for the Cerutti and Filho as a team, to go along with gold at the three-star Kuala Lumpur tournament in May. “We are very happy with this gold medal, because we only started playing together three months ago,” said Alison. “We had a win in a three-star tournament, and in a four-star, which is very good. We are evolving very fast and showing a lot of happiness on the field. Playing here at Espinho is great because the Portuguese people are a lot like the Brazilian people and they live through these beach volleyball games with their hearts.”

In Edmonton, the home crowd had high hopes for Canadians Ben Saxton and Grant O’Gorman, who were seeded first. But the title went to 10th-seeded Nico Beeler and Marco Krattiger (SUI) in the final in a tight match: 21-15, 23-25, 15-8. It was the first World Tour win by a Swiss men’s team since 2006!

American pair Stafford Slick and Bill Allen took the bronze; said Slick, “We’ve been hitting our stride. It’s mid-season form and that’s where we wanted to be. We always enter tournaments with the goal of getting to the podium and we managed to do it here, so it was great fun.” Summaries:

FIVB World Tour 4-star
Espinho (POR) ~ 17-21 July 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Alison Cerutti/Alvarho Filho (BRA); 2. Andre Loyola Stein/George Wanderley (BRA); 3. Matins Plavins/Edgars Tocs (LAT); 4. Marco Grimalt/Esteban Grimalt (CHI). Semis: Alison/Alvaro/Filho d. Plavins/Tocs, 2-0; Andre/George d. Grimalt/Grimalt, 2-0. Third: Plavins/Tocs d. Grimalt/Grimalt, 2-0. Final: Alison/Alvaro Filho d. Andre/George, 2-1 (21-13, 15-21, 15-9).

Women: 1. Nadezda Makroguzova/Svetlana Kholomina (RUS); 2. Kelly Claes/Sarah Sponcil (USA); 3. Ana Patricia Silva Ramos/Rebecca Cavalcanti (BRA); 4. Agatha Bednarczuk/Duda Lisboa (BRA). Semis: Claes/Sponcil d. Ana Patricia/Rebecca, 2-0; Makroguzova/Kholomina, 2-0. Third: Ana Patricia/Rebecca d. Agatha/Duda, 2-1. Final: Makroguzova/Kholomina d. Claes/Sponcil, 2-0 (21-17, 21-16).

FIVB World Tour 3-star
Edmonton (CAN) ~ 17-21 July 2019
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Nico Beeler/Marco Krattiger (SUI); 2. Ben Saxton/Grant O’Gorman (CAN); 3. Stafford Slick/Bill Allen (USA); 4. Alex Ranghieri/Marco Caminati (ITA). Semis: Beeler/Krattiger d. Slick/Allen, 2-0; Saxton/O’Gorman d. Ranghieri/Caminati, 2-0. Third: Slick/Allen d. Ranghieri/Caminati, 2-0. Final: Beeler/Krattiger d. Saxton/O’Gorman, 2-1 (21-15, 23-25, 15-8).

Women: 1. Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes (CAN); 2. Betsi Flint/Emily Day (USA); 3. Akiko Hasegawa/Azusa Futami (JPN); 4. Nicole Laird/Becchara Palmer (AUS). Semis: Flint/Day d. Laird/Palmer, 2-0; Pavan/Humana-Paredes d. Hasegawa/Futami, 2-0. Third: Hasegawa/Futami d. Laird/Palmer, 2-0. Final: Pavan/Humana-Paredes d. Flint/Day, 21-11, 21-16.