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Pavan, Humana-Paredes drop gold-medal match to German beach volleyball duo

Melissa Humana-Paredes’ 29th birthday didn’t feature a beach volleyball World Tour Finals gold medal celebration in Italy.

The Toronto native and her partner Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., were swept 2-0 (21-13, 23-21) in 37 minutes by Karla Borger and Julia Sude in the championship match on Sunday in Cagliari.

It was the only loss of the tournament for the 5-1 Canadians, who were seeking their first tournament title conquest since 2019.

For Borger and Sude, Sunday’s victory follows their recent title victory at the European Championships in Vienna on the heels of three losses in as many games at the Tokyo Olympics this past summer.

It also represented their second consecutive win over Pavan and Humana-Paredes, the reigning world champions who hold a 5-2 advantage in seven career meetings. The Germans posted a two-set sweep on April 24 in Cancun a week after the Canadians prevailed 15-12 in a third and deciding set in the Mexican city.

A German tandem has now won four of the past six World Tour Finals.

It was a shaky start for Borger and Sude in Italy, where they overcame an opening loss to upset reigning Olympic champions April Ross and Alix Klineman of the United States before suffering a straight-sets loss to Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina.

They defeated Italian wild cards Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi to finish pool play with a 2-2 record and advance on point ratio before knocking off Makroguzova and Kholomina in the semifinals.

Earlier Sunday, Ross and Klineman downed Makroguzova and Kholomina for bronze.

In six previous World Tour events this season, Borger and Sude’s best result was fifth in one of the three Cancun competitions.

They pulled off Sunday’s victory with an exciting second set against a resilient Pavan and Humana-Paredes, who were eliminated in the Olympic quarter-finals in Tokyo.

On third match point, Pavan’s kill attempt went wide after she served into the net to put Borger and Sude ahead 22-21.

Pavan and Humana-Paredes were fourth at 2017 World Tour Finals while the former also placed fourth in 2015 with former partner Heather Bansley.

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