Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan may have been the No. 14 seed at the Huntington Beach Open, but top-seeded Alix Klineman of Manhattan Beach and April Ross of Costa Mesa knew the duo would be difficult to beat in the finals Sunday.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan had won two of three previous matches against Ross and Klineman. It was therefore not surprising that it took Ross and Klineman three sets to dispatch Humana-Paredes and Pavan to win the AVP season bell-ringer in front of thousands on the sand at Surf City.
Ross and Klineman won by scores of 18-21, 21-12, 17-15.
The final moments were back and forth during freeze scoring, where once it gets to match point a team can only score when it is serving. Ross and Klineman were up 14-11 and had match point at 14-13. Then it was 15-14 in favor of Humana-Paredes and Pavan, but they could not get the winner, either.
With the score tied 15-15, Klineman had a block for a 16-15 lead and the final point came when Humana-Paredes hit out, sending Ross and Klineman as well as their supporters into celebration mode.
This is the fourth consecutive AVP victory for Ross and Klineman, as they won the final three of 2018. This is only their second year together.
Ross said an adjustment was made after losing the first set.
“Sometimes we just get into this routine of serving the same person no matter how the match is going,” she said. “That’s what we did in the first set – we served Mel (Humana-Paredes) relentlessly, we didn’t serve Sarah one ball.
“And we got back to between games and (coach) Jen (Kessy) was like, ‘We’ve gotta try her at least once.’ So we came out, got a run on her in the second set in the beginning and I think that was a huge adjustment.”
Ross had 23 kills (and 10 hitting errors), a whopping 25 digs and three service aces. Klineman had 18 kills, three blocks and three aces.
Klineman was thrilled to get this season off to a fine start after finishing 2018 with a bang.
“I mean, it’s amazing,” she said. “We left off last season on such a high note and … to win thisfirst one was huge. It’s a lot of confidence.”
Pavan, who like Klineman is 6-foot-5, had eight blocks to go with 17 kills. She was chagrined,especially since her team had match point after coming back so strongly.
“I mean, we had the game,” Pavan said. “I honestly thought we had them, fighting back from down 14-11; we had all the momentum in our favor. We had a chance for match and it didn’t go our way.”
Humana-Paredes had 13 kills and 13 digs; she also had eight hitting errors.
Ross and Klineman reached the finals with a 25-23, 18-21, 15-9 victory over No. 2-seeded Sarah Hughes of Costa Mesa and Summer Ross.
Klineman had 28 kills and nine hitting errors to go with three digs and three blocks in that one, and April Ross had 19 kills and 15 digs.
Summer Ross led her team with 22 kills, three digs and five blocks and Hughes came through with 14 kills and seven digs.
Humana-Paredes and Pavan reached the finals by defeating fourth-seeded Emily Day of Torrance and Betsi Flint 19-21, 21-12, 16-14 in the semifinals.
Humana-Paredes had 25 kills, 17 digs and four aces in that one and Pavan had 14 kills, six blocks and two aces.
Day powered down 26 kills and had three blocks and Flint contributed 10 kills, 13 digs and three aces.