Kate Rothery – Photo by David Caughran

August 25, 2013, Vancouver, BC (ISN) – The 2013 Beach Volleyball National championships finished today at picturesque Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver with two exciting finals and local athletes taking home gold medals in both Men’s and Women’s divisions.

On the Senior Women’s side of the draw, Nicole and Megan McNamara of Tsawwassen took their first ever senior national title on their first attempt! They won their Gold medal match in what was an unexpectedly convincing fashion over Kristina Vlcek (Toronto, ON) and Denise Wooding (North Vancouver, BC) 2-0, (21-16, 21-17). Both sets were tied in the early stages, but the sisters did not waver, making considerably less errors than their opponents and controlling the closing stages of the game with excellent blocking and clever line shots. To show such mental strength at such a young age is incredibly impressive – at 16 years of age, the identical twins are the youngest team to ever win a National Championship in beach volleyball in the competition’s 25 year history. They now add their medals to their 2012 18U Gold!

Nationals Medallists (800x600)
Both Senior Division winning teams – Photo by David Caughran

“Our goal was to finish in the top 10,” said Nicole McNamara, “we can’t believe that we are the national champions!”Winning the bronze were Victoria Cowley and Kristina Smit, both of Ontario with a 3 set win over Julia Hamer and Victoria Altomare, also from Ontario, 21-19, 18-21, 15-13.

In the Senior Men’s competition it was a BC/Ontario pairing that came out on top after an epic three set battle that thrilled the crowd. Pre-tournament favourites Cam Wheelan (Barrrie, Ontario) and Mike Plantinga (Langley, BC) took the Gold medal from BC’s biggest hopes, Provincial champion Krzysztof Orman (Vancouver, BC) and new partner Steven Marshall (Abbotsford, BC). It was Wheelan/ Plantinga’s stong serving and big hits that gave them that extra edge in the final, with eventual score 21-13, 18-21, 15-13.

“Last year we battled through injuries and didn’t achieve the results we wanted but this year, our hard work paid off. All weekend we stuck with our game plan and we are so delighted to finally be rewarded with the title of National champions!” commented Cam Wheelan. “The tournament was excellent – Vancouver provides such a beautiful backdrop. We’re looking forward to using this momentum at our international tournaments this fall!”

Taking home the bronze medal were another local pairing, Dave Beleznay and Ryan Gandy (both Vancouver, BC) who defeated Aaron Nusbaum and Will Sidgwick –up-and-coming beach athletes from Ontario. Despite Ontario dominating in the first set, Beleznay’s swift defence coupled with ruthless blocking from 6 foot 10 Gandy proved too much for the young national team players as they went down 9-21, 21-18, 15-13.

In the Youth competition, identical twins were also the talk of the competion showing once again how strong sibling partnerships can be. Lucas and Liam Palmer of Windsor, Ontario took the Gold in the 18U Men’s competition in a highly competitive three set thriller against fellow Ontario players Sangha / Kopp. The twins saved two match points, before taking the third set 18-16. BC had plenty of success too, with Quinci Birker and Thana Fayad coming back to defeat fellow BC team Darby Dunn and Tessa Neil 13-21, 21-16, 15-12 to take Gold in the 16U Girls event. In the youngest age grouping, 14U, Danielle Wood and Janelle Loewen were the top finishers in the Girls’ competition and Colton Loewen and Carson Bargen finished the clean sweep with 1st place in the 14U Boys’ event.

Full results: http://www.volleyball.ca/contenfivb.t/2013-beach-nationals