Monday, September 13, 2010

Vancouver Open

With a little break and my family reunion on the Island, I felt emotionally and physically prepared to step into the Vancouver Open and capture my third title on my favourite Canadian beach.

I had organized with two different video crews to document our voyage through the competition and the weather promised to be fantastic for the weekend! All components were in place for our first domestic event of the season.

After a wonderful players meeting at the Granville Island Brewery, Chaim and I found out our draw and looked forward to defend our second seed until the semis.

We went through the first few matches in full control, beating a set of Russian Vancouverites who played well, then we took Ray Sewel and Sam Schacter and met a team from the USA in the pre quarters. We wound up playing poorly and lost in an unfortunate 3 setter which wasn't our intention at all!!!

Forced to play an early match the next day in the losers bracket we fought hard against Jared Krause and Ryan Ghandi and then matched up against classic rivals Matt Zbyszewski and Josh Binstock. It was a packed house on Kits beach, the sun was out in full force and there was considerable anticipation for this match up because it was scheduled to be the finals.

We started off FIRING in the first set and served Josh hard. We made great plays, sided out nearly perfectly and put heavy pressure on them. We took the set 21-12 in what was a nearly perfect set on our end.

We then went down in the second set and could never recover. They hit us hard early and we couldn’t find a way to make points like we did in the first set. Josh had made some adjustments and we couldn’t figure out how to rearrange our defense on the fly to counter. They served well and forced us to set off the net and that put us in trouble. They countered our amazing first set with an amazing set of their own. 

We had played these gentlemen twice already this year but both times had been overseas during FIVB competitions. We had drawn them randomly twice in a row in the first round and we came out victorious both times in three set matches. This was the third time we had played them and the third time we had gone to three!!

I honestly can't remember much about the third set but I never remember being in control. Their serving continued to force our passing and setting off the net and they made points early to get a solid lead and keep it. We lost in what I recall being 15-11 but it might have been worse than that. 

A good game on their end and hats off to them for changing positions (when we played them overseas Josh was a left side) and we just didn't handle their new look. 

Disappointed we weren't in the finals, we had a little time to turn that around into a winning attitude for the bronze medal game. With pride on the line we played a solid match against a team from the USA. We had the upper hand the whole time and we played like losing wasn't an option.

With loads of family and friends there I wanted to end on a high and give them something to cheer about. We took the game in two sets and our defence really made the difference here as we turned a lot of points and won crucial long rallies to keep the momentum of this hot and humid final. 

A disappointing run because we felt we deserved to be in the final after beating the silver medalists early on in the tournament. Regardless it was a solid lesson for us that we have to adapt mid game and change our strategy as our opponents assess our plan of attack and counter it. 

Here is a video a friend of mine made which highlights a lot of the Vancouver Open over an interview we did while I was preparing for it.


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