Under-21 Beach World Championship Report

Sept. 05, 2008, 6:48 p.m. (ET)

Jane Croson (Los Alamitos, Calif.) and Summer Ross (Carlsbad, Calif.) are competing at the SWATCH FIVB Under-21 Beach Volleyball World Championship in Brighton, England.

BRIGHTON, England (Sept. 5, 2008) – This is our first international beach event ever.  We started playing together this summer when Coach Danalee suggested we pair up.  So far we have played about 10 CBVA and Roxy tournaments and got our AAA rating.   Here on the FIVB the teams are much better and it is challenging but also fun to be the underdogs… we are by far the youngest and least experienced team here.  We’re 14 and 15, and the rest of the players are 18-20.  We played an exhibition match before the event started to help the referees practice.  They had us scrimmage one of the best teams who took a silver medal here last year, Palmer-Rohkamper from Australia, and we got smoked!  Even their sunglasses were intimidating.  It was so scary, good thing it didn’t count!  The next day we practiced with the top team from Austria.  We served them off the court which gave us a little more confidence.  We were really excited when we found out they would be our first round match.  They were not so excited.

During our first match, it was windy and we already knew their weaknesses in the wind.  They were yelling at each other which fired us up as they started to break down.  Our first international match was a win!  Our next game was against Netherlands.  We got smoked…again.  Their serves were really hard to pass in the wind.  It was really windy and they kept more balls in than we did.  Day one we finished 1-1.

We have met a lot of really nice people here.  One exception, the Brazilians are very competitive and don’t slap hands like everyone else, so we were really relieved when we beat them to take the second slot in our pool.  It was really really raindy (windy and rainy) during that match, which was an advantage for us because we were able to serve tough and make them shank a lot of balls.  The coach of the Brazilians was yelling the whole time, which is supposed to be against the rules but I guess the ref does not speak Portuguese.  It also may have been hard for him to hear her since our fans were cheering so loud.  Tomorrow we start playoffs against Poland.  We also get a cool SWATCH watch for making the top nine.  Our goal was to get out of the pool, so now we need to set a new goal…maybe a medal?? Woo hoo!  Maybe even a gold one!

Thoughts on England…They drive on the wrong side and the bus driver is on the opposite side too.  He scares us how close to the other cars he drives. The cookies are yummy, which Summer has filled her pockets with each night.  She even stuffed a potato in her pocket so that Andy would have enough to eat…he’s so skinny we are worried about him.  We eat in a big tent at the site, but the inside has chandeliers like you are at a wedding or something. 

This is a great experience for us.  We have learned so much from Coach Danalee, like how to face your belly towards your set and give the set an apex…we didn’t even know what “apex” meant until we started training with her!  It is our dream to play in the Olympics like our idols Karch and Misty.  Maybe Jane will make it on Dancing with the Stars one day!