Beach Pro Tour Edmonton Challenge Underway
July 20, 2023: Two Canadian women’s teams – Sarah Pavan and Molly McBain, Heather Bansley and Sophie Bukovec – have advanced to the main draw at the star-studded Beach Pro Tour Challenge in Edmonton, Alberta.
Pavan and McBain breezed through their first qualifying match against Mexico, winning 2-0 (21-11, 21-12). Later in the day, they made relatively quick work of Germany’s Sude/Schneider in straight sets (21-18, 21-12), punching their ticket into the main draw. They’ll kick off pool play against the Czech Republic at 12:40 p.m. EDT (10:40 local) on Friday
To advance, Pavan and McBain — who partnered up this year — drew on their experience playing last week at the Challenge in Espinho, Spain, where they finished in the top 10.
“Molly and I have had so little time together that we’ve been learning as we go. I think it’s clear that we’re getting better with every match we play,” said Pavan. “Qualifiers are so hard—anything can happen.”
Pavan pointed to the number of talented teams in the qualifier, which included the likes of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Laura Ludwig of Germany. “You look at the qualifier, you’ve got Olympians on every court,” she said. “This game has grown so much, the field has gotten so deep, anyone can beat anyone at any time. It’s a huge win for us to qualify.”
Bansley and Bukovec were the other women’s team to break through. They knocked off Puerto Rico in their first match, 2-0 (21-11, 21-16), before edging out Finland in a three-setter (21-15, 15-21, 15-9). They’ll start pool play at 11:00 a.m. EDT (9 am local) on Friday against the U.S.
The new partnership of Bansley and Bukovec were also trying to find a rhythm as a team. “We’re just looking to play good volleyball. If we also come out with some wins—that’s a bonus,” said Bukovec. ‘We’re working out the kinks, figuring each other out. So far so good.”
Canada’s Lea Monkhouse and Amanda Harnett are already in the main draw.
Two other Canadian women’s teams; Nicole and Megan McNamara and Shanice Marcelle and Marie-Alex Bélanger did not move forward after this morning’s qualification.
The Canadian men did not advance today. Coming off their win at the Vancouver Open last weekend, Dan Dearing and Sam Schachter fell to Austria 2-0 (17-21, 16-21), committing 13 errors in the effort.
Sharone Vernon-Evans and Steven Marshall, who each made the switch from indoor to beach, made their much-anticipated debut in the sand for Canada. But the high-flying duo dropped a straight setter to Thailand (14-21, 14-16).
The men’s team of Alex Russell and Jake MacNeil as well as young team of Coltyn Liu and Tynan Gannett were also eliminated today.
Arran Chambers and Liam Kopp will represent Canada on the men’s side in this weekend’s Edmonton main draw.
Action continues throughout the weekend at Edmonton’s ICE District. Link to tournament web site
This year, Canada hosts three Beach Pro Tour events – this Challenge event in Edmonton (July 20-23) and an Elite 16 tournament in Montreal from July 26 to 30 as well as a Futures event in Halifax in September.
Volleyball Canada Media Contact:
Volleyball Viewing Guide
- Watch the Beach Pro Tour on VBTV or CBC sports in Canada.
- The Canada Cup (Indoor Provincial Teams) is currently underway in St. Catharines, ON. Watch on YouTube
- The NORCECA U23 Women’s Pan Am Cup is taking place in Sonora, Mexico, watch on FB or YouTube (Telemax Sonora) and follow the results at www.norceca.net