Canadian women dominate Gstaad Major – Japan challenges top teams
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.