Monday, 27 March 2023

International Volleyball

Brandie Wilkerson, Melissa Humana-Paredes looking like ‘one of the world’s best’ at King of the Court

King of the Court-Brandie Wilkerson-Melissa Humana-Paredes-Kusti Nolvak-Mart Tiisaar

The King of the Court at AVP Miami/King of the Court photo

After Brandie Wilkerson buried yet another cut shot, extending hers and Melissa Humana-Paredes’ lead in Sunday’s finals of the King of the Court to nine points over the next closest team, Brazilians Lili and Larissa Maestrini, and the three final pairs went into a timeout, announcer Lewie Lett did a most admirable job of containing his enthusiasm for the new Canadian duo.

“Are we looking at one of the world’s, I want to say best teams, they’re not there yet … ”  he said, pausing. “I don’t know the right word, but they are going to be there, aren’t they?”

Rich Lambourne, Lett’s partner in the box, attempted no such restraint.

“I’m not afraid to say that they’re one of the world’s best teams,” said Lambourne, who was also coaching Taylor Crabb and Taylor Sander at the event. “You’ve got a world champion in Mel and you’ve got a world champ runnerup in Brandie. You combine the two and they’re two of the best individual players in the entirety of the sport. You put them together, and just the chemistry already.”

Last weekend’s King of the Court in Miami marked just the second event for the Canadians, and yet, as Lambourne mentioned, the immediate chemistry — not to be confused with a honeymoon phase — was impossible to miss.

Humana-Paredes earned their tiaras with a beautiful, signature line shot, sealing a 15-5-3 finals win over the Maestrinis and the Czech Republic’s Barbora Hermannova and Marie-Sara Stochlova, a dominant showing to cap a dominant weekend. All told, the Canadians played nine rounds of King of the Court, winning six of them, including five of the final six. That came against competition such as Germany’s Svenja Muller and Cinja Tillman, the No. 8 team in the world, the aforementioned Czechs, who won a gold medal as recently as October in a Challenge in Dubai, Germans Julia Sude and Isabel Schneider, who also won gold in Dubai the weekend before to the Czechs, and Zana Muno and, oh, the greatest to ever play the game, Kerri Walsh Jennings, among others.

“We’re just having such a good time,” Humana-Paredes said after winning three straight rounds in the semifinals. “We didn’t even know what the score was, we just kept going until they told us to stop.”

And so, well, they didn’t, proving to be unstoppable throughout the weekend in Miami, where they will be staying for this upcoming…

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