Canadians Pavan and Bansley back on the beach podium
Moscow, Russia, May 29, 2016 – Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan captured the bronze medal at the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam with a win Sunday afternoon over Juliana Felisberta and Taiana Lima of Brazil at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre.
The fifth-seeded Bansley and Pavan posted a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) bronze medal match win in 38 minutes over the sixth-seeded Juliana and Lima to capture their fifth FIVB World Tour podium placement in 33 international starts.
With the win in their first meeting with this Brazilian team, Bansley and Pavan shared the $32,000 third-place prize. A new duo on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour, Juliana and Lima split $24,000 for fourth-place.
Last year, the Canadian team had its lowest finish of the World Tour season – a 25th at the 2015 Moscow Grand Slam – where Bansley and Pavan did upset eventual gold medal winners Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil in pool play, but failed to advance from their group for an early elimination.
“This was a good weekend for us,” said Bansley of Waterdown, Ont., “especially after what we did here last year, along with finishing ninth last week at the open event in the United States (Cincinnati). To win a bronze medal after what we have been through since the Rio event, it really helps our confidence.”
Bansley and Pavan placed fifth in the Rio Grand Slam in mid-March on Copacabana, where the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be played, but they were forced to forfeit their quarter-final match to a Polish team as Pavan injured her toe when colliding with Bansley.
“Cincinnati was disappoint,” said Pavan, who is one of the most-decorated indoor collegiate players when she competed at the University of Nebraska. “To come back this week and win six of seven matches is a big plus for our team, especially with our Olympic preparation.”
Bansley and Pavan are the third-ranked team on the Rio 2016 provisional Olympic list, excluding Brazilians, with 6,030 points for their best 12 finishes on the FIVB World Tour since the start of the qualifying process for the Rio quadrennial to be played August 6-18.
In the women’s gold medal match, second-seeded Talita and Larissa were not able to defend their 2015 Moscow Grand Slam title against third-seeded April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States ($57,000 first-place prize money went to the Americans).
In other Canadian results in Moscow, Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto) were 17th. In the men’s event, Cincinnati Open silver medalists Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter (both Richmond Hill, ON) were 17th, and Chaim Schalk (Red Deer, AB) and Ben Saxton (Calgary, AB) finished ninth overall.
After eight-straight weeks of FIVB World Tour play in Qatar, China, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and the United States, the international circuit will take a week off before resuming play June 7-12 in Hamburg for the first of five SWATCH Major Series events.
The $800,000 Hamburg Major will be the last FIVB World Tour qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the process started in April 2015 with events in China. With 24 teams competing in each gender’s Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio Summer Games, the top 15 pairs, excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two teams per country, will qualify for the Copacabana event from the FIVB World Tour.
Brazil earned its two Olympic spots per gender by winning the 2015 men’s (Alison/Bruno) and women’s (Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas) FIVB World Championships along with host nation berths (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita/Larissa). The seven remaining berths for the Rio Olympics will be determined via the Continental Cup format.