It wasn’t the best of days for the three Canadian beach volleyball teams that took part in the second day of main draw of action at the FIVB World Tour Finals at Polson Pier in Toronto as Jamie Broder/Kristina Valjas, Ben Saxton/Chaim Schalk and Heather Bansley/Brandie Wilkerson all lost their matches.
Broder, from Victoria, and Valjas, at home in Toronto, opened the day with a heartbreaking 2-1 (21-19, 13-21,16-14) loss to Liliana Fernandez and Elsa Baquerizo of Spain. The Canadians held a big lead in the third set but couldn’t hold on and will try to go through the round of 16 on Friday.
“It was disappointing to have such a big lead in the third set and to give that up,” said Broder. “I think that just kind of shows the lack of training we’ve been doing. We took a little break after Rio and some parts of our game execution and ball-control-wise weren’t as crisp as we would have hoped.”
Broder and Valjas finished third in Pool C and were drawn into a round of 16 match against Switzerland’s Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Vergé-Dépré.
Playing in their first match since the Rio Olympics, Schalk, of Calgary, and Saxton, out of Red Deer, went down in straight sets to Americans Tri Bourne and John Hyden (17-21, 17-21).
They’ve been training since the Olympics ended, but admitted it’s different getting back to game action but say they’ll find their feet over the rest of the competition.
“(After the Olympics) this is the next biggest tournament of the year plus it’s at home,” said Schalk. “Obviously we’ve been out for a bit and we’re still finding our rhythm but we’re fired up and ready to go.”
Saxton and Schalk wrap up play in Pool D on Friday when they take on Brazil’s Pedro Solberg and Evandro. The other Canadian men’s team of Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter also finish action in Pool C on Friday as they take on Poland’s Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak. Yesterday, Binstock and Schachter lost 2-1 to Americans Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena.
For Bansley, from Waterdown, Ont. and Wilkerson from Toronto, it was their first defeat as a pair as they lost to Germany’s Chantal Laboureur and Julia Sude in three sets (21-19, 17-21, 9-15).
The team has only committed to this tournament as a pair before re-assessing in the off-season but Bansley is still aiming high with the knockout round approaching.
“I would love to be playing on Saturday in the semi-finals and be on top of that podium,” said Bansley. “But we are a new team and so we’re taking it one match at a time.”
They have a very tough test in their round of 16 match as they’ve drawn defending gold medallists Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst from Germany on Friday afternoon.