For the first time in history, a Canadian team is golden on the FIVB Tour. Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, On) stood atop the podium at the Fuzhou Open earlier this morning in China.
It was a day of firsts for the pair. Having never made it this far in an FIVB event, the odds were stacked against them going up against Kerri Walsh and April Ross of the U.S., widely considered to top team in the world.
Undaunted, the Canadians shocked everyone by taking the first set 28-26. The second went a little more according to script, with Kerri and April storming back to force a third with a 21-14 win. The two teams traded blows in the third, with the Americans leading at 8-6, but that would be as far as they got. Control of the lead switched hands thanks to a Valjas block, and the Canadians rode the wave to a 15-13 win.
Their opponent in the finals was Sude/Laboureur, a young team from Germany who defeated the hosts in the semis. The Germans had a strong tournament, but the emotional wave was far from over for Jamie and Kristina. An opening set win of 21-17 put them on the bring, and even though the Germans fought back in the second, Broder/Valjas were able to close it out 23-21 to secure their first FIVB medal.
It was a great first FIVB tournament for Canada. Three fifths and a gold, this could indicate great things to come for Canadian Beach Volleyball.
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