Canadians Top Home Futures Podiums In Halifax

September 26, 2023.- Canadian duos swept both gold medals at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures event in Halifax last week. They pocketed the men’s bronze as well, while the remaining three podium spots were occupied by pairs from neighboring United States.

On Sunday, coach Josh Nichol’s expertise paid off with a Halifax Futures trophy for Samuel Schachter and Daniel Dearing and bronze for Jacob Van Geel and Zach Van Geel. The USA’s Hagen Smith and Logan Webber also climbed the men’s podium with silver.

In their first match of the tournament, top-seeded Schachter and Dearing suffered an unexpected 2-1 (12-21, 23-21, 16-14) upset from compatriots Zechariah Johnson and Jordan Deshane, who had made the main draw through the qualifiers. After that, however, the 33-year-old Canadians went on a five-match winning streak, losing only a set on the way to their first Beach Pro Tour medal. In the semifinals, Dearing and Rio 2016 Olympian Schachter came back against Johnson and Deshane with a 2-0 (21-10, 22-20) sweep, before producing a hard-fought 2-0 (21-17, 27-25) victory over  second-seeded Smith and Webber in the final.

The silver was also the first Beach Pro Tour medal for the pairing of 28-year-old Smith and 27-year-old Webber. They also took the detour route to the final, after losing the Pool B winners’ match to Canada’s Rouzbeh Rahnavard and Tynan Gannett in three sets. To reach the gold medal match, the Americans mastered a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) semifinal win over Van Geel and Van Geel.

22-year-old Jacob and 20-year-old Zach marked their Beach Pro Tour debut with a medal. The Canadians started their Halifax campaign from the qualifiers and proceeded undefeated to the semifinals. Seeded 13th in the main draw, the Van Geels managed a 2-1(21-17, 16-21, 15-12) victory over 16th-seeded Johnson and Deshane for the bronze.

Canada’s Heather Bansley and Sophie Bukovec claimed the women’s gold in Halifax. The podium was completed by two American pairs, Kimberly Hildreth and Teegan Van Gunst with silver, and Carli Lloyd and Kylie Kuyava-DeBerg with bronze.

Earlier this year, 36-year-old two-time Olympian Bansley came out of retirement to join forces with 28-year-old FIVB World Championship 2022 silver medalist Bukovec. At their third Beach Pro Tour appearance together, they secured their first medal as a team. The top-seeded Canadians lived up to their status and cruised through their five games of the tournament without dropping a single set. In the semifinals, they delivered a 2-0 (21-15, 23-21) win over 16thth-seeded US qualifiers Kahlee York and Mariah Whalen and followed up with a 2-0 (21-16, 25-23) victory over fifth-seeded Hildreth and Van Gunst in the final.

It was the second consecutive Beach Pro Tour silver for the team of 32-year-old Hildreth and 28-year-old Van Gunst, after their second place finish at their previous appearance at the Brno Futures last month. In between, Van Gunst squeezed in one more silver, with Katie Lindstrom at the Miguel Pereira Futures earlier in September. The Americans also reached the Halifax final undefeated, crowning a four-match winning streak with a 2-0 (21-14, 23-21) victory over 11th-seeded Lloyd and DeBerg in the semifinals.

Former indoor star of the United States national volleyball team Carli Lloyd marked her international debut on the beach with a bronze. The 32-year-old Rio 2016 bronze medalist and her 24-year-old partner DeBerg managed a battled 2-1 (21-15, 19-21, 15-13) win over York and Whalen in the all-American third-place duel. The bronze was also DeBerg’s first medal on the Tour.

A total of 38 teams representing eight different countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America took part in the Halifax Futures.