The attention to Canadian beach volleyball continues to hold on the international circuit and eyes around the world with the recent silver medal finish at the 2022 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships in Rome by Brandie Wilkerson and Sophie Bukovec. The two Torontonians who entered the tournament as the number 20 seed only dropped a total of three sets by the time they were in the gold medal final.
The new duo had a relatively rough start on the Beach Pro Tour, finishing in 25th place in Mexico before improving their performances with top ten placements as the World Championships drew near, which included a 9th in Turkey and 5th in Brazil. The two turned up the heat in Rome with an incredible run as Wilkerson dominated at the net and Bukovec commandeering the back court. Wilkerson was the second-best blocker of the event with a total of 31 blocks. The tournament was Bukovec’s first taste at the Worlds and Wilkerson’s third, last appearing in Hamburg in 2019 where she finished 17th with long-time partner Heather Bansley. The pair had also placed 5th at the 2017 Championships in Vienna.
The 2019 World Champions, Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes finished the tournament in 5th after being eliminated by Brazil’s Duda/Ana Patricia who would go on to win the championship. Just prior to the Championships, Pavan and Humana-Paredes won the Elite 16 event in Jurmala, Latvia. Pavan was the event’s Best Blocker and second-best scorer. Melissa was that tournament’s second-best server.
The new pairing of Sam Schachter and Dan Dearing placed 17th in their Rome campaign. This also marked Dearing's first time at the World Championships and a fourth for Schachter, who finished a best of 9th with partner Samuel Pedlow at Vienna in 2017.
While the World Championships was outstanding for Canada, it was especially important as a showcase for Ontario talent as three of the four teams in the Main Draw were all from the province - two of which are in their first year of competition together. Other national teams from the Ontario pool like Amanda Harnett/Alina Dormann and athletes Jake MacNeil and Grant O’Gorman continue to build their FIVB resume in 2022 with impressive performances and the next generation of Ontario talent is set to make an impact at the U19 World Championships this September.
The FIVB beach volleyball action will continue on July 6 with the Elite 16 event in Gstaad, Switzerland. Bukovec/Wilkerson and Pavan/Humana-Paredes are entered along with Megan and Nicole McNamara of British Columbia.