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Bansley and Pavan earn Canadian bragging rights and eye season’s best

Heather Bansley is one win away from equalling her season's best finish
August 21, 2014 – Heather Bansley and Sarah Pavan recovered from losing both their matches on the opening day of the Stare Jablonki Grand Slam to win twice and progress to the second knockout round on Thursday.

They began the day by wrapping up pool play with a 2-0 (21-11, 21-15) victory over Sweden’s Camilla Nilsson and Tadva Yoken and then beat compatriots Jamie-Lyn Broder and Kristina Valjas 2-1 (21-12, 17-21-17, 15-12) in the first knockout round.
“After yesterday we knew it was do or die in the pool and moving on,” Bansley said. “It was a new day and the start of a new tournament. 

“I think there is always extra tension when you’re playing your compatriots and it was very competitive. There was a lot of energy on the court and a lot of celebrations from both sides.”

Bansley and Pavan have only been together for just over a year, since Pavan switched from volleyball. Another win would equal their best result for the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour season, which is a quarterfinal finish at the Gstaad Grand Slam.

To do that they will need to beat Swiss pair Tanja Goricanec and Tanja Huberli, who went through pool play unbeaten.  

“This year has definitely felt much more natural than last year, just having the first season under my belt has really helped things,” Pavan said. 

“We played them once, really early last year and haven’t played them since. They’re having a really good year with their finishes. I think tomorrow will be a really tough match and we will prepare well to beat them.”

Swiss duo keeps up form

Goricanec and Huberli maintained their form from the opening day to wrap up pool play with three wins from three. 

After they defeated first seeds Juliana Felisberta and Maria Antonelli and Italy’s Marta Menegatti and Viktoria Orsi Toth on the first day, they ensured they topped their pool with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-10) win over Poland’s Dorota Strag and Katarzyna Kociolek.

“For us, it is really good,” Goricanec said. “We started the season in qualification and this tournament was the first tournament that we didn’t have to go into qualification. 

“We are really happy that we are so happy that we are playing so well and were able to beat Juliana and Maria, the number one seeds. It is good for us.”

The pair enjoyed their first medal place at a major tournament when they won silver at the CEV European Championships earlier in the season. 

It has given them renewed belief in their abilities, something which shone through when they beat two higher-ranked teams on Wednesday.  

“The silver medal at the European Championships gave us more confidence,” Goricanec added. 

“We saw that we really can play at a high level and I think we have played at that level in the last few tournaments as well.”

The double-gender US$800,000 FIVB Stare Jablonki Grand Slam runs from Tuesday August 19 until Sunday August 24 when the men’s medal matches take place. It is the 13th event and the ninth Grand Slam on the 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar that features 10 Grand Slams and nine Open tournaments.

The 2014 World Tour began at the Fuzhou Open in China in April and concludes at the Durban Open in South Africa in December. Next up on the World Tour calendar is the Sao Paolo Grand Slam which runs from September 23-28.  

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