Canada and Russia make women’s semis in Cagliari

USA vs USA and Brazil vs Germany in the two quarterfinals

Russia’s Nadezda Makroguzova and Svetlana Kholomina and Canada’s Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes topped the final standings in the two women’s pools at the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals in Cagliari and advanced straight to the semifinals. Their respective opponents will emerge from Saturday’s quarterfinal clashes, featuring Brazil’s Agatha Bednarczuk and Eduarda Santos Lisboa against Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude, and an all-American duel between April Ross and Alix Klineman and Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes.

Svetlana Kholomina celebrates

In Friday’s first Pool A match, Makroguzova and Kholomina celebrated a straight-set 2-0 (21-17, 27-25) victory over Nina Betschart and Tanja Huberli, although the Swiss kept the battle burning to push the second set deep into overtime. That result meant that the Russians would top the final pool standings unbeaten, Olympic champions April and Alix would finish runners-up and all Borger and Sude needed to do to snatch the third place was win the last match against Marta Menegatti and Valentina Gottardi. The Germans pushed hard to make sure that happens and delivered a 2-0 (21-18, 21-14) shutout, leaving both the Italians and the Swiss out of further contention. The Americans, the Germans and the Swiss finished on a 2-2 win-loss record each, so it came down to point ratio in the matches between the three pairs to determine their order in the final standings.

“It was very important for us to win this match against Italy. On paper, they were the lowest ranked team in our pool, so it was a must-win match for us to advance in the tournament. So we are happy that we can play tomorrow,” Julia Sude told Volleyball World.

“We have 10 of the best teams in the world here and it’s an amazing tournament. Our first aim was to survive the pool and that one we can now cross,” Karla Borger added. “But it’s not over. Now the elimination rounds start and it’s always fun to play, because there is much more pressure than before. We like it here, we love to play and it’s the last tournament, so we can put everything in.”

Spectacular save by Karla Borger

In the morning Pool B matches, Agatha and Duda mastered a dramatic 2-1 (21-23, 21-16, 15-13) comeback win over Sponcil and Claes, and Pavan and Melissa produced a 2-0 (21-15, 21-11) blowout of Switzerland’s Verge-Depre and Heidrich. This outcome outlined the Canadians, the Brazilians and the Americans as the three teams to progress from the pool, but then it was up to the evening matches to decide the pool winners.

Agatha and Duda finished on a high note, claiming a 2-0 (21-19, 21-16) win over Netherlands’ Sanne Keizer and Madelein Meppelink, but the margin was not wide enough to keep them in contention for the first place. So the top of the pool was between Pavan and Melissa and Sponcil and Claes. The Americans, who not only needed to win, but also to win by a wide point margin, stormed into the match on a 7-0 run to win the first set emphatically. The Canadians reacted swiftly, took the next two sets to celebrate a 2-1 (13-21, 21-14, 15-11) victory, secure the top of the standings and leave Team Slaes in third.

“We are super happy right now, especially after the way that first set went. It took us a little bit to get into the match, so it’s a huge relief and we are really happy to have come back playing a lot stronger in that game and to come up on top of our pool. Our pool is so hard! All the pools here are so hard! I think we are getting into a groove. We are playing some good volleyball. So I’m excited about what’s to come,” Melissa said.

“Have you ever seen a 7-0 start? Neither have we!” exclaimed Pavan. “Every single match in this tournament is challenging. So we are going to have to prepare well for the next games like we have for every match to this point, and expect a battle with whoever we come up against. But I can guarantee you that we are just going to leave everything we have on the court.”

More from the day in Cagliari:
Norway, Czechia advance to World Tour Finals last four

Quick links:
FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour Finals
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020