Canada crashes out of Olympic beach volleyball tournament in stunning fashion
Published Tuesday, August 3, 2021 12:07PM EDT
Canadian beach volleyball player Melissa Humana-Paredes plays the ball against Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy of Australia during the Women’s quarterfinals during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games, Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darren Calabrese
TOKYO -- Canada is heading home from the women's beach volleyball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics empty-handed.
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes lost in three sets to Australia's Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy in Tuesday's quarterfinals immediately after teammates Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson suffered the same fate against Latvia's Tina Graudina and Anastasija Kravcenoka.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes -- the sport's reining world champions -- hadn't trailed at all in the event, but dropped the opening set 21-15 against the Australians.
They battled back to take the second 21-19 before falling 15-12 in the third at a windy Shinokaze Park.
Bansley and Wilkerson, meanwhile, lost 13-21, 21-18, 11-15 thanks in large part to 13 serve errors compared to the Latvians' eight.
Canada had two shots at getting into the semifinals and would have been guaranteed a spot in the gold-medal game if both squads advanced.
Instead, the program will remain with a solitary bronze won by the men when beach volleyball was first introduced as an Olympic sport at the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
"It definitely stings," said Wilkerson, a 29-year-old from Toronto. "It definitely hurts.
"We know we have what it takes, so to not have that manifest on the court is tough to deal with emotionally."
Bansley said playing in front of empty stands because of COVID-19 restrictions was a challenge.
"It was trying to find the balance of bringing our own energy and managing the empty stadium," said the 33-year-old from Waterdown, Ont. "We love playing in (front of) a crowd and love that energy, even if they're not cheering for you ...you still feel it. We missed that. We missed that a lot, the whole game, but it is what it is.
"The other teams were dealing with the same thing."
April Ross and Alix Klineman of the United States defeated Germany's Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch 21-19, 21-19 in the day's first quarterfinal before Switzerland's Anouk Verge-Depre and Joana Heidrich topped Brazil's Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Silva 21-19, 18-21, 15-12.
The Americans and Swiss will play in Thursday's semifinals at the venue overlooking Tokyo Bay, while the Latvians and Australians will go at it for the other spot in the gold-medal showdown.
Bansley and Pavan were partners earlier in their careers, but a four-year run ended after a loss at the same stage of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Pavan and Humana-Parades, who was Canada's alternate in Brazil five years ago, are ranked second in the world by the sport's governing body, while Bansley and Wilkerson are tied for 15th.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2021.