Canadians into final four at U23 worlds

 MYSLOWICE, Poland –Taylor Pischke of Winnipeg and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Toronto (in photo) advanced to the semifinals with two playoff victories on Saturday at the FIVB U23 world championships in beach volleyball.

Humana-Paredes and Pischke reached the last four defeating Germany’s Christine Aulenbrock and Cinja Tillmann 21-15, 21-10 in the quarterfinals after a round of 16 win in the morning.

Pischke was dominant at the net against the powerful Aulenbrock, while Humana-Paredes was in constant motion at the back of the court in both attack and defence. 

“We started off with a different game-plan, but that didn’t work, so we talked about it and adjusted it and just went with the flow,” Humana-Paredes said. “We focused on our serves and I think that put them in trouble a lot.”

“It started off a little shaky,” Pischke added. “I think I was nervous, but I turned it around and got some good blocks at the end and I think that made a difference.”

The run to the last four is an impressive achievement for the 14th-seeded pair considering that the U23 Worlds is their first tournament of the year. 

They live and study in different parts of Canada and so can only train together at the end of the academic year. Humana-Parades is a student at York University, while Pischke attends the University of Manitoba. 

“This is actually our first tournament of the season,” Humana-Paredes added. “We just finished school a couple of months ago and we’ve been training. Coming here was a great start to our season.”

Denise Wooding of North Vancouver and Charlotte Sider of Ottawa lost their opening playoff match to complete the tournament with two wins and three losses for 17th place.

On the men’s side, William Hoey Brampton, Ont., and William Sidgwick of Toronto also lost their playoff opener for 17th spot.

Competition ends Sunday with the semis and finals.

www.fivb.org and www.volleyball.ca