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Canada's Bansley, Wilkerson drop Olympic beach volleyball opener

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2021-07-24 Doug Harrison
a man wearing a hat: Canada's Heather Bansley, pictured, and beach volleyball partner Brandie Wilkerson lost their opening match at the Tokyo Olympics in three sets to China's Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi on Saturday. © Submitted by Volleyball World Canada's Heather Bansley, pictured, and beach volleyball partner Brandie Wilkerson lost their opening match at the Tokyo Olympics in three sets to China's Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi on Saturday.

Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson were unable to follow the lead of their Canadian beach volleyball teammates on Saturday, losing in the third and deciding set to China's Wang Fan and Xia Xinyi in their Olympic opener in Tokyo.

After dropping the opening set, Wang and Xia prevailed 21-15, 15-11 at Shiokaze Park against the Canadians, who ranked ninth in the world entering the Summer Games.

Bansley of London, Ont., and Toronto's Wilkerson managed to save three match points before Wang delivered a cross-court winner.

The Canadians will continue preliminary round play on Monday at 10 p.m. ET against Ana Gallay and Fernanda Pereyra of Argentina.

Earlier Saturday, reigning world champions Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes of Canada swept Katja Stam and Raisa Schoon 21-16, 21-14 of the Netherlands for their fourth win in as many meetings this season.


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The momentum for Wilkerson and Bansley shifted in Saturday's match after a kill by the latter sealed a 21-18 first-set win in 20 minutes.

Wang and Xia, who had focused primarily on Bansley in the set, changed tactics and directed their attention to Wilkerson, who was a huge net presence early on.

The move paid off as the Chinese duo never trailed after taking a 4-3 advantage in the second set.

After a Wang misserve cut China's lead to 16-13 in the middle set, Xia delivered an ace and never looked back.

A Wang block put China ahead 5-2 in the final set, a lead it would extend to 10-5 and then 13-7 before a Wilkerson kill stopped the run. Xia then finished a long rally, using her left hand to direct the ball cross court.

Canada took control of a tightly contested opening set when Wilkerson unloaded an ace, followed by a Bansley kill for a 13-11 lead. Wang and Xia cut the deficit to 16-14 but were subsequently charged with a foot fault at the service line, allowing Canada to regain its three-point advantage and close out the set in 22 minutes.

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