Two strong Canadian teams claimed gold and bronze at the Gstaad Major Series event this week. While Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson won the bronze medal match against Agatha/Duda (Brazil), Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan defeated German top team Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude in the gold medal match. In a very close three-set match the Germans had match point but weren’t able to defend last year’s Gstaad title successfully. Humana-Paredes/Pavan turned around the third set to win their second Beach Major Series gold (21:17, 12:21, 17:15).
In the seminfinals Laboureur/Sude had beaten Bansley/Wilkerson 2:1 (25:27, 21:14, 18:16) in a rematch of the Warsaw final two weeks ago. Earlier Humana-Paredes/Pavan had posted another close three-set win against Agatha/Duda (14:21, 21:12, 15:13).
More than a sidenote was the performance of Japanese team Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishii who finished 5th. After going through elimination by beating Canadian and Latvian teams, the Japanese posted a two-set win against Fendrick/Day (USA) in pool play. In the elimination rounds, Murakami/Ishii upset top teams Taiana Lima/Carol Horta (Brazil) and Bieneck/Schneider (Germany). The blocker Miki Ishii is 171cm (5’8″) tall, her partner Megumi Murakami measures 165 cm (5’5″). Considering that their German opponents Bieneck/Schneider are 185 (6’0″) /182 (5’11”) cm respectively, this is a rather remarkable performance. In the quarter-final Murakami/Ishii were eliminated by Laboureur/Sude after causing major headaches to the later silver medalists in the first set that ended 28:26 for the Germans. Japanese beach volleyball seems to be getting ready for Tokyo 2020.