Canadian Sarah Pavan (right) at a Huntington Beach Open press conference with Americans April Ross (left) and Casey Patterson.
Huntington Beach, USA, May 3, 2018 - They’ve made it look rather easy in the 11 tournaments since Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes joined forces on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
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In their first full Tour event, they reached the final in the 2017 Rio de Janeiro four-star event. By the time they reached Croatia a month later, they took home the Porec Major crown. They’ve never finished below ninth place and have eight top-four finishes.
2017 Porec Major gold medal winners Melissa Humana-Paredes/Sarah Pavan
“I feel like people think it was instantaneous for us and it was just like we started playing and started winning and we didn’t struggle,” Humana-Paredes said. “We did lose our first game ever together and we don’t talk about it and we forgot about it. It’s not like we didn’t struggle and have to overcome things.”
Of course, the Canadian duo did have the chemistry required to remain consistent. Yet they still had work to do, starting with moving Humana-Paredes from a right-side setter into a left-side passer. Pavan annually had to rebuild her sand legs and beach instincts after her indoor seasons ended.
“With any partnership, there are things that go on behind the scenes and it’s a relationship like any other one,” said Pavan, who competed in the Rio 2016 Olympics with Heather Bansley. “Like Mel jokes, I see her more than I see my husband. For it to work and seem as seamless as it has been, there’s a lot of honesty and tough conversations that are had and real talk that a lot of people shy away from. We have those talks when we need to and we know that we always have our best interests in mind.”
Xiamen awarding ceremony: Kelly Claes/Brittany Hochevar (left) Sarah Pavan/Melissa Humana-Paredes (middle) and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar/Taliqua Clancy (right)
They arrived for the 2018 Huntington Beach Open as the second-seeded team after capturing the Xiamen Open in China, which came on the heels of their victory in the Commonwealth Games in Australia. They opened their quest for another title on Wednesday with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-12) win over Americans Lane Carico and Caitlyn Ledoux in the 48-team double-elimination tournament.
“People might say we’re still in our honeymoon phase,” Humana-Paredes said. “I can’t speak for Sarah, but I feel I’m still learning so much I don’t think we’ve reached our peak or even close to it. We’re learning each tournament, each practice, every time we come on the court. When we started in 2018, it was the beginning of a new year. We celebrate last year, it was a great stepping stone, but that’s in the past and we build off of that. They’re kind of separate in our minds and that’s how we take it.”
On the court, they feed off of their defensive prowess with the 6-foot-5 Pavan patrolling the net and Humana-Paredes scrambling for everything that might find its way to the back of the court. They add to the attack with a precise service reception game and a tough-serving mentality. So it’s not only the personal chemistry, the on-court formula is formidable.
“One of the things we talk about a lot is that if a team is going to earn a point on us, we want them to make sure they’ve earned it,” Pavan said. “We don’t want to not try for a ball on one play or we don’t want to make stupid mistakes. Whether it’s 20-10 or 20-20, we want a team to know if they scored a point on us it was because they did something really good.”
Just like Pavan and Humana-Paredes are doing.