It's the first Grand Slam of the year in Moscow, and it looks like the Canadian men are jealous of all the success the women have been having, because they're finding they're own stride in the Russia Capital.
Chaim Schalk (Red Deer, Ab) and Ben Saxton (Calgary, AB) rebounded nicely from a disappointing finish in Lucerne where they didn't make it out of pool play, to a perfect start in Moscow.
The pair picked up their first win against Brouwer/Meeuwsen of the Netherlands, the defending World Champs and heavy favourites heading into this year's event, dropping the first 13-21 and coming form behind with 21-16 and 15-11 wins. Next was the top team from Poland - the No. 3 Fijalek/Prudel. This one went in straight sets, but it was just a close, with Saxton/Schalk taking it 22-20, 27-25. To top everything off, their final opponent from Belarus dropped out due to injury, giving the Canadians the automatic victory.
Josh Binstock (Richmond Hill, On) and Sam Schachter (Richmond Hill, On) are also having a strong tournament. After a few disappointing results in the early season, they've recovered their championship form. First was a 21-18, 22-20 against the always tough Krou/Rowlandson of France. They followed that up with a big win over the Champions from Lucerne, Ranghieri/Carambula of Italy, in a marathon 22-20, 19-21 20-18 win. Their final match of pool play was their only loss, falling 13-21, 22-24 to Allison/Bruno of Brazil.
They will face Fijalek/Prudel of Poland at 3:40 a.m. EDT/ 12:40 a.m. PDT on Court 2.
Women Stumble in Moscow
After a historic start to the season for the Canadian women, things did not go as smoothly in Moscow.
The only team to move on is Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas (Toronto, ON), who had to come all the way through the qualifier. They pulled out a win in their final match of pool play, on centre court against a hometown team none the less. They defeated Syrtseva/Prokopeva of Russia 21-19, 21-19 to move on. They fell in their first two matches 2-0 to Wang Fan/Yue of China and Meppelink/Van Iersel of the Netherlands. They face Jen Kessy and Emily Day of the U.S. in the first round of playoffs on Court 1 at 2:00 a.m. EDT/11:00 p.m. PDT.
Being the only team moving on gives Broder/Valjas a strong hold on Canada's only spot for Beach Volleyball at the Pan Am Games, finishing as the top Canadian team for the third time this season.
Coming off their first FIVB medal, Heather Bansley (Watertown, On) and Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, On) narrowly missed moving on. Dropping their opening match in three to Slovakia, the silver medalists from Prague bounced back with a three-set win of their own - over the top ranked Larissa/Talita from Brazil. Needing a win over Azerbaijan to move on, Pavan/Bansley went to three for a third time, falling 7-15 in the third set.
Melissa Humaña-Paredes (Toronto, On) and Taylor Pischke (Winnipeg, Mb) also had a rough outing, falling in all three matches and failing to win a set. They were in tough against Agatha/Seixas of Brazil, Mengatti/Orsi Toth of Italy and finally to Summer Ross and Jenn Fopma of the U.S.
Check out our #MoscowGS page for our entire coverage including schedules, results, and live streams.