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Canadian beach volleyballers Humana-Paredes, Wilkerson finish with silver in Doha | CBC Sports

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Consistent play against the Brazilians undoubtedly will highlight the to-do list of standout Canadian beach volleyball tandem Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson in their pursuit of an Olympic berth in Paris this summer.

The Toronto duo struggled with passing, at the service line and missed several opportunities in a straight-sets loss (21-18, 21-18) to Brazil’s Bárbara Seixas and Carol Salgado in Saturday’s gold-medal match of the Beach Pro Tour’s season-opening Doha Elite16 tourney.

“It was a hard-fought week of great competition. It feels great to be back on tour playing against the best,” Humana-Paredes told Volleyball Canada. “We had a tough pre-season preparing for this, so we’re happy to see the things we worked on in action.

“We would have loved a better showing in the final but the positive is we have a lot of good to take back home and work on.”

Seixas and Salgado, who began the season ranked fifth in the world, also defeated No. 4 Wilkerson and Humana-Paredes 2-0 last Sept. 29 by identical scores of 21-18 in pool play at the Paris Elite16.

The Canadians have had mixed results against the Brazilian pair in recent years.

In June 2022, Humana-Paredes and then-partner Sarah Pavan beat Seixas and Salgado for gold in Jurmala, Latvia. Two months later, Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec were handed a 21-16, 21-13 quarterfinal loss by the Brazilians in Hamburg, Germany.

WATCH | Canada battle Brazil for gold medal in Doha:

FIVB Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 Doha finals: Canada vs. Brazil

Watch Canada’s duo of Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson take on Brazil’s Barbara Seixas and Carol Solberg for the gold medal in Doha.

Earlier Saturday, Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson outlasted Latvia’s Anastasija Samoilova and Tina Graudina 21-17, 20-22, 15-12 in the semifinals.

The Canadians advanced to the Doha semis by beating the top-ranked Brazilian duo of Ana Patricia Silva Ramos and Eduarda Santos Lisboa in straight sets (21-19, 21-19) in the quarterfinals Friday.

Earlier, the Canadians, beat Brazil’s 14th-ranked team of Agatha Bednarczuk and Rebecca Cavalcanti (16-21, 21-17, 15-11) in the Round of 12.

Huge dig, kill cap long rally for Canada

After the Canadians didn’t convert early opportunities in Saturday’s final and displayed little service pressure, they looked strong defensively to start the second set.

Wilkerson earned her first block of the match to increase Canada’s lead to 4-2 while Humana-Paredes had a huge dig that led to a Wilkerson kill to cap a long rally for a 7-5 advantage.

The teams exchanged points until Brazil began to pull away on a hard spike to the baseline by Salgado for a two-point edge at 14-12.

With Canada not sharp with its passing, the Brazilians went on a 6-0 run to make it 18-12 as Salgado was outblocking Wilkerson and dominant with her digging.

WATCH | Canada vs. Latvia in the semifinals:

FIVB Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 Doha semifinals: Canada vs. Latvia

Watch Canada’s duo of Melissa Humana-Paredes and Brandie Wilkerson take on Latvia’s Anastasija Samoilova and Tina Graudina, with a spot in the finals on the line.

But Wilkerson and Humana-Paredes continued to battle and closed to within 20-18 by saving match point for a second time.

Tied 13-13 in the first set, a Wilkerson service error spoiled a chance to grab momentum. Brazil went up by three points when a sensational Seixas serve landed between the Canadians. On the ensuing play, Wilkerson touched the next on a block attempt.

Wilkerson and Humana-Paredes closed the gap to 16-15 before Brazil scored four straight points, extending its lead to 19-16 on a Wilkerson serve that went long.

In 2023, the Canadians placed at least fifth in each of their nine appearances at Beach Pro Tour tournaments and the world championship in Mexico.

They won gold medals at the Jurmala Challenge and Montreal Elite16, and bronze at the Ostrava Elite16.

Humana-Paredes and Wilkerson were also Canada’s flag-bearers at the 2023 Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile, where they captured the country’s first women’s beach volleyball medal at the Games with silver.

Last July, Seixas and Salgado captured gold at the Edmonton Challege for their third straight victory. They won the Espinho Challege in Portugal the previous week and also the South American Continental Championships.

In Saturday’s bronze-medal game, reigning world champions Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes of the United States downed Latvia’s Samoilova & Graudina 21-15, 21-18. Cheng and Hughes are already qualified for the Paris Olympic tournament.

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