It has been 2 weeks since my last post and I apologize for my tardiness!! Unfortunately internet has not been accessible in both Marseilles, France and Klagenfurt, Austria as the internet in the hotels crashed due to so many players and refs getting into it.
These last two weeks have taken a turn to the positive and I will take you through a light summary of my recent travels and games.
To start off, we landed in Marseilles a few days early after our unfortunate defeat in Moscow. We landed in Marseille on Friday with intentions to train the entire weekend prior to the FIVB Grand Slam there. Sadly for us, when we got to the courts on Saturday morning, the wind was about 60 km/h! Absolutely silly conditions for volleyball but we managed to play a little competitive game between the two of us and then a no jumping game against Venezuela. On Sunday the wind died a bit but we decided to train in a private facility on a beach closer to down town called "Catalans" with the brazilian duo of Marcio and Fabio (08 Olympic Silver medalists). We had a mildly frustrating hit with them due to swirling wind but we dealt with it and competed. We continued to train Monday and Tuesday and beat a few high seeded teams as we prepared for Wednesdays qualifier. Wednesday came around and we received a BYE into the main draw as our seed was high and many teams pulled out!!! What a great feeling that was to be directly in without the stress of a single elimination qualification match! Unfortunately that dream was short lived as they were testing a new format for the event which was a single elimination playoff format with the top 16 teams having a BYE in the first round.
Our first match was scheduled for 7 PM Thursday against an Austrian team but due to high winds, the tournament was delayed 6 hours and our game was bumped to Friday! Excellent, another free night at the hotel and another day to rest and prepare to deliver a beat down. Friday was also postponed and over the span of the day we made 5 trips back and forth between the venue and the hotel as each hour game play was delayed due to high gusty winds. Finally we played at 6 and we made use of our opponents dismay for the stormy yet sunny conditions. I made a commitment to go back to playing with heart and emotion and through that decision, I released all kinds of energy in my game. We wound up beating the Austrians in straight convincing sets as we served aces, blocked and dug our way to our first official game victory!
We dominated in every way and I looked forward to bringing that same attitude to our following match.
Thus far in my career I haven't played any top 10 teams. In Marseille my first change to upset a top seed came along with our draw being against legends Ricardo/Emanuel. The winningest team in beach volleyball history is no dream draw but where else would we get to play these guys in tough conditions to increase our chances of winning? Pumped for the match, we came in and all of a sudden found ourselves down 11-3. Not a great start but we chipped away and didn't give up, losing the first set 21-16. In the second set we earned more points and steadied our sideout play but our 11-10 switch in our favor turned into a losing 16-19 switch. We lost that set 21-17 but we beat ourselves. They didn't do anything special, we just forced ourselves out of the game. A disappointing loss but an easy one to come to terms with.
The Marseilles FIVB Grand Slam is amazing for night life and the 2009 edition was crazy good. A bunch of athletes stayed and shoot their tail feathers on the dance floor that weekend and I took many notes of their setup as bringing their party layout at the venue would be unreal on the west cost of Canada!
We left Marseilles with renewed confidence and a more settling feeling as we both played like we knew we could. Klagenfurt, Austria was our Sunday destination; one of my favorite events in the world!!