Beach volleyball's Pavan, Humana-Paredes drop bronze-medal match in Mexico

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American Alix Klineman, left, was dominant at the net in the second and final set Sunday, partnering with April Ross for a 21-16, 21-15 sweep of Canadians Sarah Pavan, right, and Melissa Humana-Paredes in a bronze-medal match in Cancun, Mexico. (Submitted by FIVB - image credit)
American Alix Klineman, left, was dominant at the net in the second and final set Sunday, partnering with April Ross for a 21-16, 21-15 sweep of Canadians Sarah Pavan, right, and Melissa Humana-Paredes in a bronze-medal match in Cancun, Mexico. (Submitted by FIVB - image credit)

Americans April Ross and Alix Klineman made it back-to-back bronze medals in Mexico, sweeping Canadian beach volleyball duo Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes two sets to none on Sunday to cap a three-tournament competition in Cancun.

Ross and Klineman needed only 40 minutes to win by scores of 21-16, 21-15 at the FIVB 4-star event after placing ninth at the opening tourney.

Klineman dominated the reigning world champions at the net with her blocking, particularly in the second set.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes, who finished ninth last Tuesday after winning a silver medal in the opening Cancun Hub event, will be one of two probable Canadian entries in the Olympic tournament this summer in Tokyo.

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"We're obviously not playing at the level that hopefully we will be in July," Pavan, a native of Kitchener, Ont., told CBC Sports earlier this week. "This is definitely going to continue to be an upward slope."

In March, Pavan and Toronto's Humana-Paredes won silver at an AVP World Tour stop in Doha, Qatar, before travelling to Cancun.

The heat, humidity and windy conditions in Mexico were challenging but the same is expected in Tokyo.

Net dominance

"We've had to make some big adjustments," Humana-Paredes said. "I think that's been really great practice and a good opportunity to … prepare us better for Tokyo.

Down early Sunday, the Canadians took a 5-3 lead in the second set before getting into trouble. A Pavan serve failed to clear the net and then Klineman took control on the front line, featuring a kill and a block against her six-foot-five opponent to put the Americans ahead 7-6.

Up 8-7, Ross and Klineman went on a 5-1 run that included a pick up by the former, who fully extended her body to get the ball over the net. Then, a well-placed return by Ross and excellent Klineman block extended the U.S. lead to 13-8.

Ross and Klineman also held a five-point margin late in the set at 17-12 and didn't look back, with a Ross ace making it 19-14 and Pavan following with a kill attempt that sailed wide.

"You can see some teams that have improved tremendously during the pandemic," Pavan said earlier in the week. "Some teams are taking a while to find their rhythm and get into it. But overall, I would say the level is pretty good.

"It's just a matter of who shows up at any given match or moment."

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