Beach Volleyball-Canada stroll into last-16, China, Brazil follow suit
TOKYO, July 29 (Reuters) - Canadian medal contenders Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes continued their unbeaten run in women's Olympic beach volleyball with a dominant win over Swiss duo Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre, cruising into the last 16 as pool winners.
Switzerland, who also progressed after finishing second in Pool A, saved four match points but were unable to overcome Canada's supreme blocking skills at Shiokaze Park, with Pavan snatching the final point to secure a 21-13 24-22 win.
Reigning world champions Pavan and Humana-Paredes are chasing Canada's first Olympic beach volleyball gold in Tokyo, and are relishing their role as tournament favourites.
"I don't think it adds any pressure," Pavan said. "We have been very transparent about our goals and our objectives since day one, and that hasn't changed."
China's Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi also collected maximum points from Pool C to advance, defeating Argentine duo Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra 21-14 21-13 for a third straight win in the tournament.
Brazil took second place behind China, with 2015 world champion Agatha Bednarczuk and former youth Olympic winner Duda overcoming the Canadian pairing of Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson 21-18 21-18.
Bansley and Wilkerson can still qualify either as one of two best third-placed teams or through the lucky loser playoffs.
Kelly Claes, 25, and Sarah Sponcil, 24 - aiming to become the youngest Olympic champions in this event - thrashed Kenyan duo Gaudencia Makokha and Brackcides Khadambi 21-8 21-6 in Pool D.
The American pair, who spend their time off the sand making musical parodies for their fans on social media, did not miss a beat as they raced to victory in 25 minutes to move within touching distance of qualification for the knockout stage.
"We've gotten to do so many cool things through our music videos, which started out because we were bored on the road," said Sponcil. "I think a lot of people can connect with it... it's just funny and I hope relatable."
In the men's competition, Rio 2016 champion Alison Cerutti and Alvaro Filho of Brazil advanced as Pool D winners following a 21-14 24-22 win over Dutch duo Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, who also qualified as runners-up.
Czech Ondrej Perusic, whose Olympic campaign had started on a sour note after testing positive for COVID-19, returned from isolation to help notch his country's first win in the tournament alongside team mate David Schweiner.
The pair overcame a sluggish start to edge Mexico's Josue Gaxiola and Jose Camargo 17-21 21-16 16-14, keeping their qualification bid alive in Pool B.
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