It's been a year of firsts for Canadian beach volleyball, and they just keep on coming! Two teams female teams have made it to the semi-finals of the first-ever Major Series event in Porec, Croatia, with the potential of an all-Canadian final.
Jamie Broder (Victoria, BC) and Kristina Valjas are facing off against top-seeded Larissa/Talita of Brazil while Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, On) and Heather Bansley (Waterdown, On) play Bawden/Clancy of Australia.
Both teams barely squeaked past pool play with 1-2 records - winning their final match of pool play to move on. Valjas/Broder drew fourth-seed Juliana/Antonelli of Brazil and took care of them 21-17, 21-18, while Pavan/Bansley went the distance with the German pair of Ludwig/Walkenhorst, coming from behind to take it 17-21, 21-14, 15-12.
Next up was another battle with the Germans, 13th-ranked Laboureur/Sude, going to three and taking it 19-21, 21-18, 15-12. Valjas/Broder on the other hand swept Liliana/Baquerizo of Spain 21-16, 21-19. The quarterfinals featured yet another Brazilian pair and another sweep, taking down Agatha/Seixas 21-18, 21-12. Keeping with the pattern, Sarah and Heather lost the first set to Italians Menegatti/Orsi Toth 20-22, but came back to take the next two 21-19, 15-7.
Melissa Humaña-Paredes (Toronto, On) and Taylor Pischke (Winnipeg, Mb) were also in Porec, going 2-1 in pool play but losing to Lehtonen/Lahti of Finland in the first round. They finished 17th.
Men Continue to Round 2
The winning isn't only on the woman's side! Both Canadians teams of Ben Saxton (Calgary, Ab) and Chaim Schalk (Red Deer, Ab) as well as Josh Binstock (Richmond Hill, On) and Sam Schachter (Richmond Hill, On) are moving on to Round 2 in Porec.
With both teams in Pool A, Saxton/Schalk came out on top in the battle of the maple leaf taking it 17-21, 24-22, 15-13. The pair from Alberta continued their winning ways to win the group, defeating Croatia 21-12, 21-13 and the top-seeded Alison/Bruno of Brazil 21-16, 34-32. Binstock/Schachter squeaked through, dropping their match to the Brazilians but destroying Croatia 21-11 in both sets to move on.
Chaim and Ben receive a bye to the Second Round and will be facing Gögtepe/Giginoglu of Turkey. Josh and Sam drew Walkenhorst/Windscheif of Germany and won that match 21-18, 32-30.