Canadians Pavan and Humana-Paredes push through to women's volleyball final

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Canada's Sarah Pavan, left, and Melissa Humana-Paredes, right, pushed through tough quarter-final and semifinal matchups Thursday but manage to advance to the final at the four-star Katara Beach Volleyball Cup in Doha, Qatar.  (Ronald Zak/The Associated Press/File - image credit)
Canada's Sarah Pavan, left, and Melissa Humana-Paredes, right, pushed through tough quarter-final and semifinal matchups Thursday but manage to advance to the final at the four-star Katara Beach Volleyball Cup in Doha, Qatar. (Ronald Zak/The Associated Press/File - image credit)

Top-seeded Canadian duo Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes will face the second-seed Americans Alix Klineman and April Ross in Friday's women's final of the four-star Katara Beach Volleyball Cup in Doha, Qatar.

Pavan, from Kitchener, Ont., and Humana-Paredes, from Toronto, Ont., bested third-seed Brazilian duo Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa (Duda), 2-0 (24-22, 26-24) in the semifinals on Thursday to find their way into the final round.

In the quarter-final earlier in the day, it took three sets in a hard-fought match against Russia's Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina, but eventually came out with a 2-1 (22-20, 24-26, 15-9) victory.

"We had some up and down moments. We were down in both sets, but we persisted, we kept fighting and it paid off. I am really proud of how we fought through the whole day today," Pavan said post-match to Volleyball World.

Having faced Klineman and Ross in the 2019 at the world championship to win and qualify for the Tokyo Games, Humana-Paredes and Pavan hope to have the same perseverance they showed Thursday to help them capture gold against the Americans on Friday.

"We're quite familiar with the team of Alix and April and it's always a battle against them. We know each other really well, so it's bound to be a good game. As always, as long as we focus on our side, it should be a good match and we should persevere," Humana-Paredes said.

The reigning world champions eliminated fellow Canadians Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley in the Round of 16 in three sets (18-21, 21-18, 15-9), on Wednesday. Wilkerson and Bansley finish ninth in the standings, while Canada's men's entry of Ben Saxton and Grant O'Gorman finished 25th in the standings.

Olympic qualification made clearer

On Wednesday, beach volleyball players were given a clearer picture of how their 2021 calendar will unfold.

Players will be able to garner Olympic qualifying points at six, four-star World Tour competitions, including three back-to-back events in Cancun, Mexico from April 16 to May 2.

Olympic ranking points will also be up for grabs at events in Sochi, Russia (May 26-30); Ostrava, Czech Republic (June 2-6) and at the currently ongoing Katara Cup in Doha.

The final Olympic beach volleyball qualification rankings will be published on June 14th and only the 15 highest ranked teams per gender will qualify, with a quota of two places per nation.