Moscow, Russia, May 29, 2016 - Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan rebounded from one of their worst finishes on the FIVB World Tour to capture a bronze medal at the US$800,000 Moscow Grand Slam with a win here Sunday afternoon over Juliana Felisberta and Taiana Lima of Brazil.
Playing in the second of four Moscow Grand Slam medal matches Sunday at the Vodny Stadium Beach Sports Centre, the fifth-seeded Bansley and Pavan posted a 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) bronze medal win in 38 minutes over the sixth-seeded Juliana and Lima to capture their fifth FIVB World Tour podium placement in 33 international starts.
With the win in their first meeting with the Brazilians, Bansley and Pavan shared the $32,000 third-place prize. A new team on the 2015-2016 FIVB World Tour, Juliana and Lima split $24,000 for fourth-place. It also marked the first-time Juliana and Lima had played together away from Brazil as their previous four FIVB starts were at events in their South American country.
The “worst” was a 25th at last year’s Moscow Grand Slam where Bansley and Pavan did upset eventual gold medal winners Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca of Brazil in pool play, but the Canadians failed to advance from their group for an early elimination for the FIVB World Tour event.
“This was a good weekend for us,” said the 28-year old Bansley, “especially after what we did here last year along with finishing ninth last week at the open event in the United States. To win a bronze medal after what we have been through since the Rio event, it really helps our confidence.”
Bansley and Pavan placed fifth in the Rio Grand Slam in mid-March on Copacabana where the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be played, but they were forced to forfeit their quarter-final matches to a Polish team as Pavan broke her toe when colliding with Bansley.”
“Cincinnati was disappoint,” said the 29-year old Pavan, who is one of the most-decorated indoor collegiate players when she competed at the University of Nebraska. “To come back this week and win six of seven matches is a big plus for our team, especially with our Olympic preparation.”
Bansley and Pavan are the third-ranked team on the Rio 2016 provisional Olympic list, excluding Brazilians, with 6,030 points for their best 12 finishes on the FIVB World Tour since the start of the qualifying process for the Copacabana quadrennial to be played August 6-18.
In the women’s gold medal match, second-seeded Talita and Larissa will be out to successful defend their 2015 Moscow Grand Slam title against third-seeded April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings of the United States with the $57,000 first-place prize at stake. It is the third FIVB World Tour gold medal meeting between the two teams with Brazilians winning titles last August in the United States (Long Beach) and this March in Brazil (Vitoria.)
After eight-straight weeks of FIVB World Tour play in Qatar, China, Brazil, Russia, Turkey and the United States, the international circuit will take a week off before resuming play June 7-12 in Hamburg for the first of five SWATCH Major Series events.
The $800,000 Hamburg Major will be the last FIVB World Tour qualifying event for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as the process started in April 2015 with events in China. With 24 teams competing in each gender’s Beach Volleyball competition at the Rio Summer Games, the top 15 pairs, excluding Brazilians with a maximum of two teams per country, will qualify for the Copacabana event from the FIVB World Tour.
Brazil earned its two Olympic spots per gender by winning the 2015 men’s (Alison/Bruno) and women’s (Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas) FIVB World Championships along with host nation berths (Evandro Goncalves/Pedro Solberg and Talita/Larissa). The seven remaining berths for the Rio Olympics will be determined via the Continental Cup format.