Canada's Martin Reader jumps into the arms of teammate Joshua Binstock after the victory over Mexico in Mazatlan on Saturday (photo courtesy FIVB).
by Louis Daignault
MAZATLAN, Mexico – Canada earned an Olympic spot in men’s and women’s beach volleyball Saturday by winning both finals at the Continental Cup Games qualifying tournament.
The men’s team comprised of Christian Redmann of Toronto and Ben Saxton of Calgary as well as Martin Reader of Comox, B.C., and Josh Binstock of Toronto defeated Mexico 3-1 in the men’s final.
‘’This is just starting to sink in now, it is so exciting,’’ said an emotional Reader. ‘’We’ve received just so much support over that we can’t thank everybody enough. We knew that Mexico would be tough in the final, and their A team was probably the strongest opponent we faced here.’’
The duo of Binstock/Reader sealed the spot to London by prevailing 2-1 (21-17, 11-21, 15-13) in a tough battle against Mexico’s Aldo Miramontes and Juan Virgen in the fourth match of the series.
Binstock/Reader opened the day with a 2-0 (21-11, 21-13) victory over Ulises and Rodolfo Ontiveros of Mexico-B, only to see Miramontes/Virgen coming back with a strong 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) showing against Redmann/ Saxton.
Redmann/Saxton edged the brothers Ontiveros 2-0 (21-16, 21-18) to set the stage for the final clash of the competition in front of around 2,500 spectators.
‘’That third match probably the most pressure we’ve ever faced in our career,’’ said Binstock. ‘’we had our backs to the wall and 2,000 Mexican fans cheering against us. We were down almost the entire third set but like we’ve had so many times this season we found a way to get it done.’’
In the women’s final, Canada with Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney of Toronto as well as Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., and Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., beat Mexico in their final 3-0.
Bansley and Maloney opened the match defeating Martha Revuelta and Vanessa Virgen 21-12, 21-14. Martin and Lessard put Canada up 2-0 with a 21-18, 16-21, 15-12 win over Candelas Bibiana and Mayra Garcia. Martin and Lessard sealed the match beating Bibiana and Garcia 21-14, 21-14.
“It is like a dream coming true,” Maloney said after the victory. “We are very happy about going to the beach volleyball tournament of the Olympics.”
“It is great to qualify to the Olympics,” Bansley added. “It has been a lot of fun here and we kept our game plan.”
Lessard and Martin felt their key match was against Bibiana and Garcia.
‘’They are one of the strongest teams in our zone,’’ said Lessard. ‘’One of them is 6’4’’ and is very strong at the net and she dominated the second set. But we adjusted well in the third we were strong emotionally and mentally. The Mexicans were nervous and we capitalized on that.’’
To decide which pair gets the Olympic spots, the two Canadian teams that combined forces here will now square off at the Canadian trials on July 7 at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto.
‘’Right now we are all celebrating the moment,’’ said Reader. ‘’On Monday morning when we return to Toronto it I’ll be back to business.’’
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