The winds of fate can be cruel in the sport of beach volleyball. At the very least they can be unpredictable.
The team of Savannah Purdy and Charlie Holborn found that out late in the deciding set of the Volleyball B.C. 15-under girls provincial championship final Sunday on the sands of Spanish Banks in Vancouver.
Tied at a game apiece and trailing 14-13, Purdy and Holborn judged an opposing return to be out, only to see the wind bring the ball back in where it landed on the line for the winning point.
For the girls’ coach Mike Toakley, who could only stand by and watch, it was just one of those things.
“That’s beach volleyball; that’s the difference between an indoor and an outdoor game, it’ll work for you as much as it will work against you,” he said.
The Langford girls and former Spencer middle school teammates – Holborn lives in Ottawa having moved with her family a couple of years ago – came in ranked No. 1 based on points accrued through tournament play this season. Both Purdy and Holborn, on opposite sides of the country, competed and did well playing in older age groups on occasion.
They breezed through the round robin, winning three matches in the minimum two sets to win their pool, then posted wins in the quarters and semifinals.
Another Langford pair, Gracie May and Taylee Pomponio, didn’t come quite as close to gold, but did come away with a silver medal in the 14U draw.
Also seeded first, they went 2-1 to win their pool, then won an inspired match in three sets against a team that came in ultra-confident, Toakley said. While they rolled through the semifinal in straight sets, May and Pomponio lost two straight in the gold medal showdown.
“They did not have the best match in the final,” Toakley said. “For whatever reason they came out really flat, even though they had played some phenomenal volleyball earlier in the day.”
He figured the quarter-final took a lot out of them, not to mention the heat of the weekend and the sheer physicality of the beach game. “I told them after the final that they can play at this level, even if you didn’t do it just now.”
A third pair of Greater Victoria players, May’s older sister Hannah and Oak Bay resident Erin Mutch, lost in the quarter-finals and wound up seventh in the 15U division, after going 3-0 in pool play.
The six girls, with so-called Langford super-sub Olivia Godek replacing Holborn playing with Purdy, are gearing up for the Western National Championships in Parksville, Aug. 14 to 16. Godek teamed with another member of the Langford clan, Miranda Cyr, to win the Island 15U crown last month over Hannah May and Mutch, while Purdy and Holborn won bronze at 16U.
The western national tournament only features even age categories, so the 15U players will move up to compete in the 16U division. As a return gesture to Holborn spending a month out here, Purdy plans to travel to Toronto later this month for the Eastern Nationals, where the two will team up to play the 15U draw.