Olympians Ben Saxton and Chaim Schalk needed three sets to defeat Brazil’s Evandro Goncalves and Pedro Solberg at the Swatch Beach Volleyball FIVB World Tour Finals on Friday.
The 2-1 (23-21, 15-21, 15-13) victory – played in front of an electric home crowd at Toronto’s Polson Pier – gives Saxton/Schalk a 1-1 record and a spot in the next round.
“It’s amazing having a home crowd,” Saxton said. “We never get this. Tomorrow it’s the playoffs and it’s the weekend so it’s going to get crazy and rowdy in here. It’s so fun playing in and we love all the support.”
“This crowd here is amazing,” added Schalk. “We want to make (the fans) proud and we’ll try and get every point and every win that we can for them.”
It was a hard fought win by the Canadian Olympic duo. After falling behind 20-18 in the opening set, the Canadians won three straight points to take a 21-20 lead. After failing to secure the set a couple times, the duo eventually took it 23-21.
After Brazil took the second set 21-15, the Canadians won a back-and-forth third set, 15-13, to secure the match.
“We dealt with (Solberg’s) serve pretty well,” said Saxton. “We passed the set well – a lot better. We just found our rhythm. We’ve been out of competition for more than a month with Rio. It’s nice to be back in there and finding our rhythm. We’re excited for playoffs.”
The duo lost its opening match of the tournament on Thursday, falling in straight set to John Hyden and Tri Bourne of the United States. Schalk said Friday’s win will give them momentum heading into Saturday’s round of 12 match against Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen of the Netherlands.
“We’re happy to get out of the pool in second place with the win,” said Schalk. “It’ll give us a good push to go out and get some more wins in the tournament.”
Canada’s other Olympic men’s beach volleyball team, Josh Binstock and Sam Schachter, lost in straight sets (22-20, 21-16) to Piotr Kantor and Bartosz Losiak of Poland on Friday. The two will take on Mariusz Prudel and Grzegorz Fijalek of Poland.
In women’s action on Friday, Canada’s Jamie Broder and Kristina Valjas lost 2-0 (24-22, 21-19) to Isabelle Forrer and Anouk Verge-Depre in the round of 12. Heather Bansley and Brandie Wilkerson also had their tournament come to end, falling 2-1 (21-17, 18-21, 15-10) to Olympic champions Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany.