Canadian men and women advance at beach volleyball Olympic qualifier

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican RepublicCanada’s men’s and women’s teams earned victories on Monday to open the Continental Cup beach volleyball tournament which is part of the qualifying process for next year’s Summer Olympics.

In women’s competition, Canada defeated Mexico 3-1. Annie Martin of Sherbrooke, Que., and Marie-Andrée Lessard of Ville LaSalle, Que., posted wins in the first and fourth match to put Canada into the next round against Puerto Rico.

Martin and Lessard defeated Martha Revuelta and Diana Estrad of Mexico 2 in three sets then clinched the match defeating Bibiana Candelas and Mayra Garcia of Mexico 1 also in three sets.

‘’Annie and I are very proud of our victory because it was the first time we had beaten Candelas and Garcia, who are one of the strongest teams on the World Tour,’’ said Lessard. ‘’We were patient. I was stable with my sideouts and Annie served and blocked really well.’’

Heather Bansley and Liz Maloney, both of Toronto, lost the second match to Mexico 1 then put Canada ahead 2-1 with a 2-0 victory over Mexico 2.

In men’s play, Canada trounced the U.S., 4-0.  Christian Redmann of Toronto and Ben Saxton of Calgary won the opening match over Steve Vander Werp and Matt Mckinney of USA 2, 21-17, 21-16.

Then Martin Reader of Comox, B.C., and Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta., sealed the match, defeating Will Strickland and Aaron Wachtfogel of USA 1, 21-15, 21-16 and the USA 2 pairing on an injury forfeit after one of the American players was hurt on a close play at the net.

Redmann and Saxton completed the sweep taking USA 1, 21-15, 21-19.

The Canadian men also face Puerto Rico in the next round Tuesday,

The top-four teams in both men’s and women’s competition advance to next year’s Continental Cup Final. The winners from the Final qualify for the Olympics.