Pavan and Humana-Paredes off to a good start at Hamburg Finals

Melissa Humana-Paredes (Toronto, ON) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, ON) defeated Heather Bansley (Waterdown, ON) and Brandie Wilkerson (Toronto) in three sets on Wednesday as the US$800,000 SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals kicked off in Germany.

Seeded third, Humana-Paredes and Pavan posted a 2-1 (20-22, 21-12, 15-9) win in 49 minutes over the 11th-seeded Bansley and Wilkerson. After trailing 14-19 and 16-20 in the first set, Humana-Paredes and Pavan had an opportunity to win the opening set after tying it at 20-20.

Humana-Paredes explains: “The match changed when we woke up. In the first set it took us a little bit too long to wake up. Once we realized that the game was on the line, we turned things around and we started playing kind of our style. We took what we needed to and we made it work. We need to keep this consistency since every team is amazing here.”

Humana-Paredes and Pavan, who finished fourth at the 2017 FIVB World Championships earlier this month in Vienna, Austria, controlled the tempo in the final two sets in defeating their Canadian teammates for the second-time in three FIVB World Tour meetings. Bansley and Wilkerson won the first match by elimination Humana-Paredes and Pavan last September at the SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Toronto.

Both teams conclude group action Thursday against sixth-seeded Barbora Hermannova/Marketa Slukova of the Czech Republic. Bansley and Wilkerson play the Czech pair at 10 a.m. (local time) on a side court while Humana-Paredes and Pavan meet Hermannova and Slukova at the Rothenbaum centre court at 4 p.m.

“For us, it’s definitely about improving on these inconsistencies we had on this game,” said Wilkerson. “It’s in our control, so as long as we keep focusing on each play and on our side out, our transition, in every part of the game, just keeping it solid, I think we’ll be happy about our performance.”

Early today, European champions Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai of Italy
posted a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) Pool D win in 30 minutes over 12th-seeded Albertans Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk – the only Canadian men’s team at the Hamburg event. In the final match of the night, the Canadians lost to Böckermann/Schümann of the host country, 2-1 (20-22, 21-13, 15-11) on centre court.