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Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke serve notice of Pan Am, Olympic potential

Melissa Humana-Paredes and Taylor Pischke serve notice of Pan Am, Olympic potential

Posted by Juan Gavasa on March 24, 2015

On the court, beach volleyball’s global rookie of the year changes to hair-up concentration, laser focus and still-evolving world-class skill.

It takes a true pair to create this ballet with sand in your toes. Humana-Paredes’ has the ideal partner in Winnipeg’s Taylor Pischke, who is as driven and professional on the beach, though more reserved off of it. The two of them are hoping to make it to the Pan Am Games and then on to the Rio Olympics.

Rather than storm the volleyball world in 2014, the Mel and Taylor show snuck in through the side door and improved at such a clip they moved from nowhere (in the 60s) to No. 23, and took over as the top Canadian duo, before it was over.

“It’s not a surprise [for us], but no one was expecting that,” said Humana-Paredes, snacking on some yogurt after the team’s hard two-hour February workout at a converted aircraft hangar in Toronto. “No-one was expecting Taylor and me to be in the running for Pan Ams, not the Olympics, not being ranked first in Canada.

“We just sprang out. So now we’re here and dealing with pressures, but … it’s outside pressure more than anything. Within our team we know what we’re capable of.”

Canadian-Chilean beach volleyball athlete Melissa Humana-Paredes has been named top female rookie by the FIVB for her debut season on the international circuit.

Canada’s top three duos couldn’t be closer in the FIVB world rankings, with Humana-Paredes and Pischke in at 23, Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley at 24, Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas at 25.

Most of the top global teams come from the Americas, with the top four representing Brazil, Argentina, Brazil and the United States, respectively. It’s busy up there.

More importantly, only 24 teams will make the beach at Rio and the complicated qualification system basically means you have to be inside that number based on points from your top-12 Grand Slam and FIVB Open events. And there are top-flight teams who took a year or two off from the circuit after London that are expected to return for a run at 2016.

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