Beach volleyball debutant Sarah Pavan enjoys the best of both sides
“I have been an indoor player for 15 years and I love it. I just can’t walk away from the sport that has given me so much. It’s still the sport that I love. I have to keep playing for a little while.”
The 26-year old Pavan was a four-time First Team All-American at the University of Nebraska, with whom she won the 2006 NCAA title. She later played in Italy and the Brazilian league and is a long-time member of the Canadian national team.
Try something new
Due to some changes in the national team she felt like making a switch and so turned to 25-year old beach veteran Heather Bansley for advice.
Then after the indoor season ended they entered the World Tour Grand Slams in Corrientes, The Hague and Rome, with ninth place in Corrientes their best finish.
“After the Olympic qualifier for indoor last year almost all the players retired and there were a lot of younger players coming in," she said. "So I just figured it would be a really good time to step out and try something new.
“We grew up in the same area and she has a good reputation in our country for beach so I figured she would be the right person to ask. I just called her one day and asked if she knew anybody that could play with me and she said she could.”
Securing a spot in the elimination rounds
Despite their short preparation for the World Championships in Stare Jablonki they surprised Russia’s Ukolova and Khomyakova 2-1 on Monday and after another 2-1 win over Australia’s Artacho and Ngauamo on Wednesday they secured a spot in the elimination rounds.
“It’s our first time together at a World Championship and only our fourth tournament together so we are happy about how we played”, said Bansley, who finished 17th with Elizabeth Maloney at the World Championships in Rome two years ago.
“But all our matches were challenging in different ways. All our games went to three. Physically we had a tough match against Austria. And this game against Australia was mentally challenging. “
Bansley and Pavan won the first set against young Artacho and Ngauamo easily, were beaten in the second, but recovered in the tiebreak (21-12 17-21 15-7). “When you come out and you win the first set by that much of a margin. I think staying on focus and on tasks in the second set is always a challenge. It’s a big tournament and we wanted to do well and secure our spot in pool play, so I think there was a lot of thinking going around.”
For Pavan it’s not just about reading the opponents, she still has to adjust to beach volleyball as well, but despite all the new challenges Pavan loves her new ‘job’ and surroundings.
“I play opposite indoor so I don’t receive. So that’s a big change. And also in beach blocking and getting of the net is very different. In indoor you just stay in one spot and don’t worry about it. And peeling of the net is very different, I find it very difficult.”
“Everybody is so friendly. In indoor you have your team and you stay with your team and you don’t really leave that bubble. On the beach there are just two people and people are very social and you train with other teams, you chat with other teams.”
It is not enough though to convince her to retire from indoor and focus only on beach, she said, asked about their future plans. “I am not ready to quit indoor yet.”
“We are going to continue playing until the end of August, beginning of September and then Sarah is going back to play indoor another season”, Barnsley explained. “The plan right now is to continue playing next summer on the beach with Sarah and then we will kind of adjust accordingly going into olympic qualifying.”
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