Canadian women oh-so-close to podium


Michel Belanger

July 12, 2013, KAZAN, Russia (Team Canada) (ISN) – Despite a loss in the women’s bronze medal match Friday night, Canadian beach volleyball made a big stride at the 27th Summer Universiade in Kazan in 2013.

All three Canadian entries in the sport topped finishes from 2011 in Shenzhen, China, when the sport made its FISU Games debut. Two years ago, the highest Canadian finish was 13th. 

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Melissa Humana-Paredes of Toronto and Taylor Pischke of Winnipeg placed fourth following a 2-0 (21-11, 21-14) loss to Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude of Germany. In their semifinal earlier in the day, the Canadian duo had lost to Russia’s Ekaterina Khomiakova and Evgeniya Ukolova, also in two sets (21-18, 21-19).

The Russian pair was ninth at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

“It was a really tough tournament with lots of great teams here,” said Pischke, who teamed up with Humana-Paredes last month to claim bronze at the FIVB under-23 world championships in Poland. “I’m actually really proud of what we did this week. We played so many matches, a lot of great matches. Obviously it’s disappointing to end off this way but overall it was a really good tournament for us.”

Also on the women’s side, Rachel Cockrell of Winnipeg and Charlotte Sider of Toronto finished 13th with a 3-3 record, losing to the Czech Republic their final match Wednesday.

In the men’s tournament, Grant O’Gorman of Toronto and Samuel Pedlow of Barrie, Ont., ended up in seventh position with an overall mark of 4-5 after a loss to the United States Friday morning. Pedlow had won silver at last month’s U21 Worlds with Aaron Nusbaum

“I think beach volleyball in Canada is growing,” said Humana-Paredes. “The development program has been really successful in the past couple of years and won a lot of medals on the youth and junior tour. Even on our senior tour, we are getting a lot of medals that we didn’t get before. It’s growing in Canada and we are becoming a contender on the world tour.”

Humana-Paredes and Pischke flew through preliminary competition winning their pool after defeating China 2-0 and Brazil 2-1. Receiving a bye into the second round of the playoff format, they then defeated Germany 2 by 2-0, before losing to Poland in straight sets.

With the loss, Humana-Paredes and Pischke had to win three straight matches to advance to the semifinal, which they did against Austria, China and Thailand (quarter-finals), all in two games. All three matches in the single elimination were Thursday.

The Canadians team, which ended up going 6-3 overall in Kazan, now heads to FIVB Grand Slam in Long Beach, California, and a NORCECA tour stop in Cuba in August.