Wilkerson, Humana-Paredes stopped by Dutch duo in Doha beach volleyball quarterfinals
Brandie Wilkerson and Melissa Humana-Paredes' first Beach Pro Tour event as partners ended in a 2-0 sweep at the hands of Dutch duo Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon on Saturday at the Volleyball World season opener in Doha, Qatar.
The Toronto athletes, who joined forces in late October in a quest for a medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics, lost 21-18, 21-19 in quarterfinal play at the Aspire Park sports complex.
They finished the week with a 3-2 record, topping Andressa Cavalcanti and Vitoria Rodrigues in their first of two matches on Thursday before a three-set defeat to recently crowned Beach Pro Tour champions Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes of the United States.
"Winning our first match was like a bonus," Wilkerson explained. "We just stuck to what we were practising and feeling. There was a lot of confidence coming from our side just from preparation."
A 2-0 victory over Nina Brunner and Tanja Huberli of Switzerland in their lone Friday match set up a round of 12 contest Saturday against the Czech Republic's Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova, who bowed 21-10, 21-18.
WATCH | Humana-Paredes, Wilkerson take on Czech Republic:
Next up was Stam and Schoon, the current European champions who went 3-0 in pool play with opposing tandems boasting world titles.
Stam, 24, and Schoon, 21, were in dominant form and are one win away from their fourth consecutive medal in international events.
WATCH | Humana-Paredes, Wilkerson face Netherlands:
"We're still feeling each other out," Wilkerson said, "but as long as we do what we need and want to do, the results are going to show."
There were hints of a potential Wilkerson/Humana-Paredes future partnership on Sept. 4 when the 30-year-olds advanced to the Sept. 4 final of the AVP Pro Tour's Chicago Open in their professional beach volleyball debut. They lost two sets to one to rising American stars Kristen Nuss and Taryn Kloth.
Coy about future partnership
At the time, Wilkerson's regular playing partner, Bukovec, was recovering from a sprained right hand.
A few weeks later, Wilkerson was coy about possibly partnering full-time with Humana-Paredes, telling CBC Sports: "She can play AVP [tourneys] and Sophie can't, so maybe people will see us play more." Volleyball Canada then made sure of that by announcing the partnership.
"I feel like we've been working really hard for the last few months, but haven't had a lot of competition," said Humana-Paredes. "I've been so excited to play with Brandie and now I got the chance to do it, so it's like a dream."
Two-time Olympian Sarah Pavan has now teamed with world silver medallist Sophie Bukovec, Wilkerson's partner on the sand until late September. They went 1-3 in Doha, dropping a three-set decision to Ana Patricia Ramos and Eduarda Santos Lisboa of Brazil in Saturday's round of 12.
WATCH | Pavan, Bukovec take on Brazil:
The Doha tournament is the first at the international level in which teams can add points to their Olympic rankings that will determine the duos qualified for Paris.
Countries can send only two teams per gender to the Summer Games. The Olympic ranking qualifying window opened Jan. 1 and runs through June 9, 2024, with the best 12 events per team counting toward ranking.
The winner of the 2023 world championships, scheduled for Oct. 6-15 in the three Mexican cities of Tlaxcala, Huamantla and Apizaco, earns an automatic Olympic berth.
WATCH | Pavan, Bukovec gearing up for Paris Olympics: