Cook, Pardon of US win beach volleyball gold at Pan Am Games

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The gray skies of the Peruvian capital served as a dramatic but familiar backdrop for Americans Karissa Cook and Jace Pardon, who won the women’s beach volleyball final on Tuesday at the Pan American Games.

The U.S. beat Argentina 14-21, 22-20, 15-10. Cook and Pardon hugged and waved an American flag when the match ended. Thick fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean blanketed the hills surrounding the sandy venue in Lima. But Cook said it was ideal.

“My hometown is just like this. I love this weather,” said Cook, who’s from Santa Cruz, California.

A sold-out crowd also braved the chilly breeze to cheer on the teams and wave the Argentine flag.

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Cook and Pardon were unstoppable throughout the Pan Am Games with a split blocking system in which they both spent time defending at the net and in the backcourt. That allowed them to attack from behind the baseline.

In most beach volleyball duos, one player remains as the main blocker at the net, while the other is the main defender in the backcourt. But the Americans had played both positions during their careers, and they decided on the strategy when they first teamed up in May.

“Argentina came out really strong and I don’t think they ever let up,” Pardon said.

“It was just about us staying really gritty. Even though we never felt like it was really beautiful volleyball that we were playing, we found a way to score, and luckily it was more than them.”

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