HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (July 20, 2013) – Medals were handed out in the boys' under-17 (U17) division on Saturday at the 2013 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships (Beach HPC) in Hermosa Beach, Calif.
For the first time, the gold medals weren't hung around American necks.
Andrew Kos and Zach Albert of Toronto, Canada, earned the top spot and are among the first contingent of Canadian teams to ever compete at Beach HPC.
Ali Wood Lamberson, USA Volleyball’s Director of International and High Performance Beach Programs, said that she had been in talks with Volleyball Canada about how the two countries could grow the game together at the youth level.
“In Europe they have a really great youth tour, and we don’t have that, where we’re getting international experience,” Lamberson said. “We wanted to get some international experience for our athletes. We want [Canada's] athletes to come down as much as they can and help each other get better.”
USA Volleyball got permission from the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA) to invite teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico and Canada to the Beach HPC. Mexico was unable to send any teams, but Puerto Rico sent one team and Canada sent 11, including Kos and Albert.
“I strongly suggest it to other people,” Kos said. “It was a cool tournament.”
The duo had to adjust its style of play to the conditions in Hermosa Beach, where it’s hotter and more humid than in Canada, the sand is deeper and the wind is constant. But the Canadian teams have more than held their own. Kos and Albert hang around the courts to cheer on their compatriots and are extremely proud of their gold.
“It’s special,” Kos said of their win. “It’s what we’ve worked for.”
“It’s good comparing us to the States,” Albert agreed. “It feels like everyone’s so much better, but maybe that’s not the case anymore. We’re catching up.”
Kos and Albert faced off against Kyle Skinner (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) and Matt Yoshimoto (Oxnard, Calif.) in the gold medal match. Yoshimoto and Skinner had hoped to play the Canadian team in the finals. The two teams exchanged jerseys after receiving their medals and spent the afternoon watching other matches together.
“The neat thing about having international teams here playing with the kids in Hermosa is that they get to interact with international athletes,” USA Volleyball’s Coordinator of Beach High Performance Patricia Daugherty said. “For instance, yesterday after everybody was done, they were playing on the net, four versus four, just making new friends. I think that’s very important as well, besides just the volleyball aspect. They’re also making new friends that I’m sure will last a lifetime.”
Lamberson is pleased with how the international participation has gone and said that there are plans to expand it further.
“We’d like to open this up to a few more countries as NORCECA permits us and get that international flair,” she said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for our athletes to play against international teams.”
For match schedules and results, click here.
2013 USA Volleyball Beach High Performance Championships
U15 Girls: July 19-21
U17 Girls: Gold - Lindsey Knudsen (Valencia, Calif.) and Abril Bustamante (Redondo Beach, Calif.); Silver - Kaylie McHugh (Davie, Fla.) and Julia Lewkowicz (Coral Springs, Fla.); Bronze - Natalie Anselmo (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) and Olivia Zelon (Santa Monica, Calif.)
U19 Girls: July 19-21
U21 Women: Gold - Jace Pardon (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Lara Dykstra (Redondo Beach, Calif.); Silver - Sophie Asprey (Dallas, Texas) and Becca Strehlow (Long Beach, Calif.); Bronze - Kamila Tan (San Diego, Calif.) and Emily Podschweit (Denver, Colo.)
U26 Women: Gold - Stevi Robinson (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Caitlin Ledoux (Phelan, Calif.); Silver - Leah Hinkey (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Emily Stockman (Hermosa Beach, Calif.); Bronze - Kirby Burnham (Newport Beach, Calif.) and Meg Norton (Pacific Palisades, Calif.)
U15 Boys: Gold - Luke Grafton (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Dane Johnson (Manhattan Beach, Calif.); Silver - Logan Glave (Hermosa Beach, Calif.) and Niko Forbes (Manhattan Beach, Calif.); Bronze - Luke Salm (Trinity, Fla.) and Ethan Shinn (Wellington, Fla.)
U17 Boys: Gold - Andrew Kos (Toronto, Canada) and Zach Albert (Toronto, Canada); Silver - Kyle Skinner (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) and Matt Yoshimoto (Oxnard, Calif.); Bronze - Jacob Brantley (Ashburn, Va.) and Taylor Ho (Foster City, Calif.)
U19 Boys: July 19-21
U21 Men: Gold - Branden Clemens (Carmel, Ind.) and Chris Long (Tustin, Calif.); Silver - Brendan Duff (Carmel, Ind.) and Cody Martin (Tucson, Ariz.); Bronze - Skyler McCoy (Long Beach, Calif.) and Austin Rysyk (San Jose, Calif.)
U26 Men: Gold - Adam Cabbage (Rio Ranchero, N.M.) and Rob Page (Rochester, N.Y.); Silver - Kyle Stevenson (Ranchos Palos Verdes, Calif.) and Martin Lorenz (Spokane, Wash.); Bronze - Weston Carico (Manhattan Beach, Calif.) and Kevin Villea (Glendale, Ariz.)