The last two quarterfinalists of the Tokyo 2020 women’s Olympic beach volleyball tournament emerged on Monday. April Ross and Alix Klineman claimed a spot among the best eight of the competition to challenge Germany’s Laura Ludwig and Margareta Kozuch in the next round. Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes snatched the last remaining vacancy to go against Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Taliqua Clancy for a berth in the semifinals.

USA’s April and Alix opened the competition day at Shiokaze Park well in charge of their round of 16 game against Cuba’s Lidy Echeverria and Leila Martinez. However, early into the second set, they found themselves lagging five points behind at 7-2 Cuba’s way. The Americans managed an emphatic comeback to eventually win that set by a six-point margin to shape up a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) win.

“That’s a team we’ve never seen before. We know that they are very good, but it’s a little hard to know what to expect,” April said after the match. “Alix even said in between the two sets, ‘we know they can play a lot better, so let’s be ready for that’. They came out in the second set and served really well. Luckily, we were able to adjust and handle that down the stretch.”

“We work really hard on being consistent with our attitude, having a short memory and not getting too down on what’s happened in the past, because it doesn’t affect what happens in the future,” Alix added. “We knew they can serve some pretty nasty balls and their offence is really good too. So we said, if they get an amazing kill or ace, or whatever, that’s fine and let’s just get back to our game.”

Melissa in defence

Melissa in defence

Canada’s Pavan and Melissa completely dominated their match against Liliana Fernаndez and Elsa Baquerizo of Spain. The reigning world champions left no doubts over the outcome of the game, prevailing on the way to a convincing 2-0 (21-13, 21-13) victory.

“It’s never easy. If it looks easy, it’s because we took advantage of the opportunities we had. We played very low-error. We blocked a lot of balls and our side-out was very consistent,” Pavan told Volleyball World. “We’d only played that team once ever, three years ago, and we lost. I still have nightmares. So we didn’t really know what was going to happen, but we took care of it. Every chance we had, we took advantage of it, and we’re very happy with that result.”

“Canada is the only nation left with two teams still in the quarterfinals,” Melissa added. “Normally, at this stage you see two American, two Brazilian pairs... You are seeing two Canadian teams now and that says a lot about our programme and our federation. I think as a country we should be really proud of where we are in beach volleyball.”