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Canadian beach volleyball duo Pavan, Bansley fifth at Prague Open

Sarah Pavan jumps for a ball at the Prague Open in a recent photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, FIVB

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Sarah Pavan jumps for a ball at the Prague Open in a recent photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, FIVB

PRAGUE - Canada's Sarah Pavan and Heather Bansley had a strong 2014 FIVB tour debut, finishing fifth at the Prague Open on Saturday.

The beach volleyball pair swept their pool matches, and then knocked off China's Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia (21-19 21-18) earlier Saturday to reach the quarter-finals. They were eliminated by No. 2 seeds Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany in the final eight (21-11, 21-8).

Pavan, from Kitchener, Ont., starred for Canada's indoor volleyball team for years before switching to beach last year, and teaming up with Bansley, from Waterdown, Ont.

"Our original goal was top ten and we reached that," Pavan said on the FIVB website. "Now we just want to keep getting better. Obviously whatever team we are going to play, is very strong. But we just want to keep improving our finishes and competing hard."

The Canadians made it the final eight once last year, when they finished fifth at the Long Beach Grand Slam.

Pavan and Bansley were prepared for a tough game against world champion Xue and her young partner Xia, who won two gold medals in Phuket and Durban last year and two bronzes (Fuzhou and Puerto Vallarta Open) this season.

"It was back and forth, point by point. We just had to be patient throughout the game," Bansley said.

The Canadians played the Germans once before, last year in pool play at the Berlin Grand Slam, and won 2-0.

The other Canadian team at this women's tournament – Kacie MacTavish and Caleigh Whitaker, both of Sharon, Ont. – finished 25th.

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