The pause, so slight, so innocuous, but present nonetheless, said more than words could. And, to be fair, Melissa Humana-Paredes did put a nice verbal spin on her and Sarah Pavan’s quarterfinal loss against Brooke Sweat and Summer Ross in Fort Lauderdale earlier in the year.

She called it thrilling.

“But…” and then came the pause, ever so brief, just enough to know that a fifth place for Canada’s top team, even in an FIVB Major, even in the first big event of the year, is nowhere near this team’s expectation. And justifiably so.

In their previous six international tournaments, their worst finish had been fourth, in a run that included a silver in Poland, bronze in one of the top events of the year in Gstaad, and a gold in Porec.

“I can tell you guys are cringing about it,” Tri Bourne said on SANDCAST: Beach Volleyball with Tri Bourne and Travis Mewhirter.

“We don’t want people to think ‘Oh, fifth, terrible,’” Pavan said. “Like, for all intents and purposes, it is a good finish but our goal is to be in the semifinals or on the podium every tournament, because that means we are playing well. Fifth is not bad, but we have high expectations.”

It hasn’t taken long to build them. This is just the second year of the Pavan-Humana-Paredes partnership, and in that short time they have already raced to the top of the FIVB rankings and finished on a podium in six different countries, three of those podiums resulting in medals of the gold variety.

“We kind of became addicted and wanted it to happen all the time,” Pavan said. “Even though we are in a second year and every team is elevating their level, we still have been able to hold onto that spot. And we still have so many things we want to get better at and that we’re working on and we know that we can still get so much better so we’re excited about that. The first year was about laying the foundation, now it’s time to find our identity as a team.”

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