Schalk and Saxton take victory in stride

OTTAWA (October 1, 2012) – In baseball, a perfect game is when a pitcher doesn’t allow a runner on base; in football it can be when a quarterback completes all his passes; in basketball a triple double is a rare achievement.

But in beach volleyball going through an entire tournament without losing a match or a set is a feat to talk about as well.  That’s what Chaim Schalk of Red Deer, Alta., and Ben Saxton of Calgary did this past weekend in San Diego to win the gold medal at the eighth stop on the NORCECA beach volleyball circuit: five wins and no losses in matches and a 10-0 mark in sets.

“The key to our success was our consistency,” said Schalk.  “We rarely gave up more than two points in a row.  Our sideouts and block defence were really strong. In a tournament you don’t realize until the end that you`ve just won every match 2-0.”

What’s more stunning is that they were playing in their first tournament together.  ‘’I guess it is always a possibility to not lose a set,’’ said Saxton, who was one win short of making the Olympic Games with his regular partner Christian Redmann this past summer. ‘’The NORCECA is not the same (highest) calibre. But I`ve been to a few NORCECA’s before so it’s nice to get that first win.’’

The pair decided after the national championships in August to team up for the San Diego tournament.  “It was more of an excuse to go to California,” joked Saxton.

“We were able to get in some training time before the tournament and we felt ready,’’ said Schalk.

Canada also captured the bronze medal with Cameron Wheelan of Barrie, Ont., and Michael Plantinga of Langley, B.C., while Jamie Broder of Victoria and Kristina Valjas of Toronto were fourth in women’s competition.

There are still three more stops on the NORCECA (North and Central American and Caribbean) circuit this year.