Canada’s Heather Bansley (Waterdown, ON) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener,ON) won their second silver of the season – this time at the US$800,000 Porec Major in Croatia.
Playing for gold in the inaugural SWATCH Major Series event, the top-seeded Larissa Franca (left) and Talita Antunes of Brazil posted a 2-1 (21-16, 25-27, 15-12) win in 46 minutes over the 17th-seeded Bansley and Pavan, who were playing in their second FIVB World Tour finale in the past three weeks. The Canadians picked up their first silver medal earlier in the season in the Czech Republic where they lost the final to another Brazilian pair.
The Canadians had defeated the Brazilians at last week’s Moscow Grand Slam in pool play. Talita and Larissa, who defeated Bansley and Pavan in pool play this week, have now won 42 of their last 43 matches on the FIVB World Tour. The Brazilians had a 29-match winning streak before losing to Bansley and Pavan in the Russian capital.
With their sixth gold medal in eight international starts together, Talita and Larissa shared the $57,000 first-place prize along with garnering 800 points to improve their FIVB World Tour rank fourth after playing in only two of the five women’s events this season. Bansley and Pavan, the No. 3-ranked team with four events this season, split $43,000 for second-place along with gathering 720 points.
Talita and Larissa advanced to the finals with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) win in 37 minutes over 18th-seeded Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, ON) in the first world tour meeting between the two teams. The Canadians (Broder and Valjas) are the top-ranked team on the FIVB World Tour after playing in the first five events.
Bansley and Pavan, who lost to Brazilians Agatha Bednarczuk and Barbara Seixas in the Czech Republic gold medal match, scored a 2-1 (21-13, 15-21, 15-13) semi-final win in 49 minutes over 22nd-seeded Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy of Australia. The win avenged a pair of three-set setbacks to the Australians last season at “major” events in Russia and The Hague.
In the bronze medal match, Bawden and Clancy scored a 2-0 (21-15, 21-17) win in 35 minutes over Broder and Valjas. The Canadians had previously defeated Bawden and Clancy in a pool play match last August in Stare Jablonki, Poland. The Aussies split $32,000 for third and Broder/Valjas shared $24,000 for fourth-place.
With Canada standing on the second spot on the podium, the North American country Canada has now earned four medals in five FIVB World Tour events this season. Prior to the 2015 campaign, a Canadian women’s team had never earned a podium position since the start of international competition in 1992. With the “final four” appearances Saturday, the Canadians became the first women’s teams from their country to reach the semi-finals at a “major” FIVB World Tour event.
Fellow Canadians Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke finished 17th.
The men’s event is still in progress, with Canada’s Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter in the semi-finals on Sunday; and Chaim Schalk and Ben Saxton finishing a strong fifth overall.
Following this and next week’s SWATCH Major Series event in Norway (June 9 -14), the FIVB World Tour crosses the Atlantic Ocean for an event in the United States in St. Petersburg, Fla. (June 16 – 21). The June schedule ends with the start of the world championships in The Netherlands (June 26 – July 5).