An exciting lineup of matches for Thursday’s quarterfinals was set up at the Katara Beach Volleyball Cup 4-star in Doha after Wednesday’s extensive action in the women’s tournament.
Reigning world champions and FIVB World Ranking leaders Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes mastered a great comeback in an all-Canadian clash with Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson to dominate in the tie-breaker in a 2-1 (18-21, 21-18, 15-9) victory and advance to the last eight.
“Oh my gosh, we’ve missed this so much! I don’t think we realised just how much we love it and how much we missed it until now that we are back. It’s been 18 long months, but now we’re so happy!” exclaimed Pavan. “Today Mel was playing great defence. We were getting a ton of chances on defence and we were turning a lot of points. That really took a lot of pressure off of our side-out, just knowing that we were always getting chances on block and defence.”
“It’s always tough flying all the way across the world to play your country mates and it’s unfortunate that we matched up early. We knew it was going to be a battle and we had to focus on our side. It wasn’t our best volleyball, but it’s really important that we grinded through together and that gives us confidence for tomorrow. We’re so excited to be in the quarterfinals. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for us,” Humana-Paredes added.
The Canadians will face Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina, who knocked out two German teams on Wednesday on the way to the quarterfinals, defeating both Kim Behrens & Sandra Ittlinger and Victoria Bieneck & Isabel Schneider in straight sets.
24th-seeded Ksenia Dabizha and Daria Rudykh also had a fabulous day, with three wins in a row that led them to a spot in the quarterfinals. The Russians started their Wednesday with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-19) shutout of Czechia’s Michala Kvapilova and Michaela Kubickova for the third place in Pool H. In the first elimination round, they upset another Czech pair, Barbora Hermannova and Marketa Slukova, with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-17, 15-10) comeback and, riding the momentum, stunned sixth-seeded Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre of Switzerland, defeating them in straight sets, 2-0 (21-19, 21-17).
On Thursday, they clash with Emily Stockman and Kelley Kolinske who snatched a 2-1 (21-11, 24-26, 17-15) victory over Brooke Sweat and Kerri Walsh Jennings in a nerve-wracking all-US clash.
Third-seeded Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda) were another team that made it to the quarterfinals after winning as many as three games on Wednesday. The Brazilians finished third in Pool C after a 2-0 victory over Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth. In a spectacular first-round match, they overcame Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink on the way to a 2-1 (33-35, 21-17, 21-19) victory, hammered out after over an hour of play time. In the eighthfinals, Agatha and Duda shut out another strong opponent, fourth-seeded Tanja Huberli and Nina Betschart of Switzerland, to stay in contention.
They will be challenged by USA’s Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, who advanced to the quarterfinals after a hard-fought battle with another Brazilian pair, Barbara Seixas De Freitas and Carolina Solberg Salgado, winning it by 2-1 (21-17, 15-21, 15-12).
Second-seeded Americans Alix Klineman and April Ross mastered a convincing straight-set win over Spain’s Liliana Fernandez Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo McMillan and set up a duel with fifth-seeded Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva. The Brazilians had to play two matches on Wednesday and also cruised to two straight-set victories – against Switzerland’s Esmee Bobner and Zoe Verge-Depre and against seventh-seeded Germans Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch.
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