The silver medals went to the other American duo in the women’s draw, Jace Pardon and Caitlin Ledoux. Third-seeded Italians Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini claimed bronze, leaving top-seeded Shaunna Marie Polley and Kelsie Wills in fourth place and off the podium.
The women’s medallists at Shepparton
The gold medal match was an exciting three-setter, in which Dowdy and Pollok defeated their compatriots Pardon and Ledoux in the tie-breaker to emerge victorious with a 2-1 (21-17, 18-21, 15-12) win. Pardon and Ledoux maintained a slight advantage in the beginning of the first set, but after 14-14 Dowdy and Pollok scored three in a row and kept the momentum through a 21-17 close. Pardon and Ledoux stormed into the second set with a 4-0 run and, although their opponents caught up on several occasions, managed to tie the match with a 21-18 win. With four consecutive points, Dowdy and Pollok took a 9-5 lead in the third set, but Pardon and Ledoux came back to tie it at 11-11. After 12-12, it was another three in a row for Dowdy and Pollok, with Irene Pollock acing for 15-12 and the title. While Jace Pardon has a silver medal from the 2014 U23 World Championship, for both her and Caitlin Ledoux the silver from Shepparton is the first medal on the World Tour.
“They are such a good team with great ball control, so we are happy to pull that one out. Ball handling errors on our part cost us that second set, but we brought it back together for the third and we are really proud of the way we finished,” Dowdy and Pollock said after winning the final. “Shepparton has been amazing. On our first day here we went out to the woods and we saw kangaroos, so we thought that was our good luck charm right there. Shepparton did a great job with bringing in the community and it was just a great atmosphere. It was awesome!”
In the third place match, Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini managed a tough 2-0 (23-21, 21-15) victory over Polley and Wills. For two-time Olympian Menegatti this is the first World Tour medal since 2015. For her partner from Rio 2016, Laura Giombini, this is the first World Tour medal ever. The Italians battled back from a four-point deficit in the first set before Giombini scored two great points in the extra-time to close it off at 23-21. 6-6 was the last time the score was tied in the second set. The Italians opened a gap and kept the pace through 21-15, with Menegatti spiking for the bronze medal point.
To get to the gold medal match, Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock had to persevere through another tie-breaker in their semifinal against Shaunna Marie Polley and Kelsie Wills. The Americans fought back from a set down to claim a 2-1 (19-21, 21-15, 15-7) victory.
In the other semifinal, Jace Pardon and Caitlin Ledoux mastered a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) shutout of Menegatti and Giombini to set up the all-American final.