On one of the nicest days of the year in Vancouver, several hundred beach volleyball fans and people passing by took in two thrilling matches on the sands of Kitsilano Beach Park.
On Women’s Pro side, a pair of locals that call Kits Beach home, Joanna Braun and Alyssa Wolf, out lasted, Danielle Jacobson and Courtney Schwan, who were up from Washington (State) for the event.
Braun and Wolf dropped the first set, 21-23, but roared back in the second (22-20) and third (16-14) sets to take the title.
“We were a little intimidated by one of the girls (Courtney Schwan) because she is such a big hitter and physical at the net, so I think we were both thinking, if we can just keep digging balls, tiring them out and hitting the ball back, we can at least keep our sideout going,” said Joanna Braun.
This was Braun and Wolf’s first beach volleyball tournament as partners, although, the two are very familiar with each other, having played against each other for close to a decade.
“We know the beach, we know the sand and we know the way the wind blows here at Kits Beach,” Braun said. “It’s nice to have the home crowd and family here watching – it means a lot.”
The win was the first win on the beach for Alyssa Wolf who admitted she was a little overwhelmed and shocked by what she called, ‘the biggest win of her adult beach career’.
“I was excited when we made Top-4 because this tournament had a lot of strong teams,” said Alyssa Wolf. “Coming in, I was just trying to work hard, have fun and hope for the best.”
Both Braun and Wolf aren’t sure if they’ll play all the events on the VBC Pro Beach Volleyball Tour this season, but did joke that after the win they might have to think about playing together a little more often.
LeBourdais & Wiskar Win in Straight Sets
On the Men’s Pro side, the familiar duo of Matt LeBourdais and Jonny Wiskar teamed up to win in straight sets, 21-16, 21-19, over 2017 VBC Pro Beach Volleyball Tour champion, Pablo Vidal and his partner John Galloway.
Coming into the match, LeBourdais and Wiskar knew they would need their ‘A’ game to knock off Vidal and Galloway who entered the Kits Classic fresh off winning the last KBVA (Kitsilano Beach Volleyball Association) tournament.
“I felt like it was anybody’s game and a toss-up that could have went either way today, and we got lucky with a few plays at the end,” said Matt LeBourdais.
He also added that in close games like this one, the familiarity he has with Wiskar certainly comes in handy.
“We’ve played together for a long time, and to be honest, we might be the longest tenured beach partnership in Canada,” LeBourdais joked. “We’ve been playing together 10-to-12 years now, so we know each other inside and out.”
Post-match, Jonny Wiskar called the day perfect, highlighting the sunshine and atmosphere.
“The whole beach community was down here today, so there was lots of kids that I’ve either coached or played with watching,” said Jonny Wiskar. “Jim Clive, he’s a legend, he was here – it was a lot of fun to play today.”
The pair is still undecided on if they’ll play in Parksville, but believe they will play together in the other tour stops, as well as, Big West Volleyfest in August if the stay healthy and injury free.
Thanks for reading. See you at the Vancouver Open, July 13-15th.