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World champions Pavan, Humana-Paredes fall in Cancun beach volleyball final

Canada’s top-ranked beach volleyball team of Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes came up just short in their first tune-up tournament ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

Pavan, of Kitchener, Ont., and Toronto’s Humana-Paredes fell 2-1 to Brazil’s Tatiana Lima and Talita Antunes on Tuesday in the gold-medal match of an FIVB World Tour four-star event.

Canada took an early lead, captivating the first set 21-19.

Brazil drew level by taking the second set 24-22. Canada saved four set points and had the opportunity to put the match away, but Brazil saved match point and came back to force a decisive third set.

Lima and Antunes built on their second-set momentum and took the third set 15-10 to claim their first World Tour event since 2013.

“We have such great chemistry that’s even difficult to explain,” Taiana said in a story on the tournament website. “I’m so proud of our trajectory here. We finished the tournament without losing a single match and played some of the best teams in the world in the Canadians and the two Brazilian teams that are going to the Olympics.”

Pavan and Humana-Paredes plan to compete in at least five tournaments leading up to the Tokyo Games, which they qualified for when they won the women’s world title in 2019.

The FIVB World Tour event was the first of three that volleyball’s world governing body set up in a hub environment in Cancun.

“I think Cancun will be a real test for us against every team because it is such a lengthy event, to see where we’re really at,” Pavan told The Canadian Press prior the tournament.

“Other teams are scrambling to accumulate points. Obviously we want to win every tournament we play… but to be able to take a very objective approach and just see it as information gathering for Tokyo is definitely a luxury.”

Earlier Monday, the Canadian duo defeated Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Cinja Tillmann in the semifinal by scores of 21-16 and 21-14 after prevailing two sets to one in an earlier matchup in pool play.

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