Neither of Canada’s two matches on Thursday at the beach volleyball world championships began well.
By the end, both teams were headed to the quarter-finals.
Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes and fellow Canadian duo Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec each earned three-sets victories at the tournament in Rome, extending their respective unbeaten streaks.
Pavan and Humana-Paredes, ranked 15th, fell behind sixth-ranked Brazilians Talita Da Rocha Antunes and Rebecca Cavalcanti Barbosa Silva early, dropping the first set 21-16.
But the reigning champions showed their mettle, responding with a dominant 21-11 second to force a third and decisive set.
That’s where things got dicey again. Despite going up 6-3 early, Pavan and Humana-Paredes found themselves clinging to a one-point lead late while trying to fend off the Brazilians. It took extra time, but an 18-16 third set sent the Canadians into the quarters.
WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes outlast Brazilian duo:
In a mostly even match, Pavan and Humana-Paredes separated themselves with a 37-31 advantage in attack points.
They’ll next meet their third consecutive Brazilian opponents in No. 16 Eduarda Santos Lisboa and Ana Patricia Silva Ramos.
Wilkerson, Bukovec making good on partnership
Meanwhile, Wilkerson and Bukovec, the 40th-ranked duo who only joined forces in February, are already showing their partnership can work.
Despite losing a close first set to Germany’s Karla Borger and Julia Sude by a score of 21-19, the Canadians maintained their composure and turned around to win the second set by the same score.
In the final set, with momentum on their side, Wilkerson and Bukovec ran away with a 15-10 victory.
Despite being outscored 5-1 on serves, the Canadians led in points on attack, blocks and opponent errors to keep their surprsing run in Rome alive. Their next opponent is 60th-ranked Italian duo Valentina Gottardi and Marta Menegatti.
The quarter-finals take place on Friday, with Pavan and Humana-Paredes hitting the sand at 5 am ET before Wilkerson and Bukovec begin at 2 pm ET.
Matches can be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem. The bronze and gold medal finals are scheduled for Sunday.