Gstaad, Switzerland, July 10, 2019 - The top two women's finishers this past Saturday at the 2019 FIVB World Championships in Germany survived first-set scares here Wednesday to post pool play wins in the US$600,000 Swatch Major Gstaad.
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With the Swiss Alps village celebrating the 20th anniversary of the FIVB World Tour event, second-seeded Melissa Humana/Paredes and Sarah Pavan of Canada started defense of their 2018 Gstaad gold medals by posting a 2-1 (17-21, 21-7, 15-10) Pool B win in 40 minutes over 31st-seeded Laura Caluori/Dunja Gerson of Switzerland.
Third-seeded Alix Klineman/April Ross, who dropped a 2-0 (23-21, 23-21) gold medal decision to the Canadians in the Hamburg World Championships Saturday, used a strong third set performance to defeat 30th-seeded Katarzyna Kociolek/Kinga Wojtasik of Poland 2-1 (18-21, 22-20, 15-4) in a 48-minute Pool C match.
With the win over the Swiss pair, Humana-Paredes and Pavan improved their Gstaad match mark to 13-1 as the Canadians posted a 6-0 record in winning the 2018 title. Humana-Paredes and Pavan placed third on the Alps village courts in 2017 with their only setback being in the semifinals to Brazilians Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca.
“You can chalk it up a great performance by them, or chalk it up as what happened to us last week. I think we needed to go through that. Get it out of our system, get the balling rolling,” Humana-Paredes said after the match with the Swiss on Wednesday.
Pavan said: "We love playing in Gstaad! Melissa and I have had some really big successes here, and some of my top beach volleyball memories surround this tournament. Today, we got out to a very slow start. I think we were both more emotionally drained from Hamburg than either of us realized, and it took some time to get rolling again. We knew that the first match would be a grind after everything that has happened recently, so we are glad to put that one behind us and continue with the tournament."
Ross is competing in her 12th Swatch Major Gstaad with a second-place finish in 2016 with Kerri Walsh Jennings. Klineman made her Gstaad debut in 2018 with Ross as the Americans placed fifth last July after being eliminated by Humana-Paredes and Pavan in the quarterfinals.
With the women only playing the first round of pool play matches on Wednesday, the second round will be contested Thursday with Humana-Paredes and Pavan meeting 15th-seeded qualifiers Maria Antonelli and Carolina Salgado while Klineman and Ross play 19th-seeded Elsa Baquerizo/Liliana Fernandez of Spain.
Antonelli and Carolina have won three of their four FIVB World Tour matches against the Canadians with the two teams splitting two 2019 meetings. Humana-Paredes and Pavan defeated the Brazilians on home sand in Itapema May 17 with Antonelli and Carolina avenging the setback May 30 in the Czech Republic.
Klineman and Ross will be playing Elsa and Liliana for the second-time on the FIVB World Tour with the first match between the two teams being exactly a year ago when the Americans posted a 2-1 (20-22, 23-21, 15-7) pool play victory in 53 minutes on the Gstaad village courts.
With the men starting elimination bracket play on Thursday afternoon after morning pool play matches, the women complete their group schedule to set the field for two rounds of knockout matches on Friday. The men's medal matches will be played on Saturday with the women's final four contests being play Sunday.