We're heating things up at beach volleyball

The warm Manitoba sun beats down upon the sandy fields at Cindy Klassen Recreation Complex, a superb parallel for this year’s slogan for the Canada Games, Hottest Summer in Half a Century. Unfortunately, I made the grave mistake of wearing closed in shoes to the sandy courts- but it is otherwise a truly perfect day for both watching and playing beach volleyball! Music plays loudly, capturing the fun filled spirit of beach volleyball. Meanwhile, barefoot, orange clad volunteers excitedly prepare the sandy courts with smiles and rakes in tow, some even showing off their own volleying and bumping skills. There is a buzz in the air as spectators bustle to their seats, some spectators costumed and hollering in anticipation for the upcoming Manitoba versus Ontario men's game.

Beach Volleyball Canada Games Winnipeg

Photo: Marc Nedelec

At this point in the Canada Games, both team Manitoba and team Ontario are undefeated and only one victor can emerge from this match of legends. Based upon the loud clapping and cheering for team Manitoba, a vast majority of the crowd is hoping for a home team win. Nonetheless, Manitoba will be hard pressed to win against the formidable team Ontario. The opening whistle blows and the first set of the game begins. Clad in yellow, team Manitoba opens the scoring- with the favour to immediately returned by red clad team Ontario. The game continues in this fashion for quite a while, with both teams pretty equally matched. Despite not having the home team advantage, the powerful spikes of team Ontario help them to pull slightly ahead of team Manitoba. Sitting at 20-17 for team Ontario, you can't help but feel the vested emotion of the crowd urging team Manitoba to catch up quickly! As though in tune with the crowd, Hooker and Thiessen of team Manitoba are able to catch up, making it a 21-21 tie as the crowd anxiously chants "Toba! Toba! Toba!” in complete synchronicity. Yet despite considerable fan support, team Manitoba narrowly loses the first set.

Beach Volleyball Canada Games Winnipeg

Photo: Marc Nedelec

The second set begins much like the first, every point scored by team Manitoba being returned by team Ontario. Using some ingenuity, skill, and a little bit of luck, team Manitoba is able to take a steady lead over team Ontario and win the second set 21-14; thus forcing a third set in which only one team can remain undefeated: winner take all!

Beach Volleyball Canada Games WinnipegPhoto: Marc Nedelec

 The third set begins, and the crowd is ablaze with passion. All of the fans are cheering, chanting and screaming for their favourite team to win. With equal points being scored by both teams, much like the first two sets, it is truly a nail-biter to watch. Ultimately, Ontario wins the third set and the match to the disappointment and shouts of frustration of the home crowd. Despite, losing the match and their undefeated status, team Manitoba appears to be in good spirits, and team Ontario is evidently elated with their win. I guess there are a couple things to take away from today’s match: to never give up, and that beach volleyball is a sport with many, many, many passionate fans!