What’s going on with beach volleyball at the BC Summer Games?

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Six zones are entering men’s and women’s teams in this weekend’s beach volleyball tournament at the new Carrie Jane Gray Park facility

There’s a brand new beach right next to downtown Prince George, with no water anywhere.

This suits Isaak Lank perfectly.

He is delighted with the three-court beach volleyball facility built this year at Carrie Jane Gray Park (on the former site of the Horseshoe Pits) which will serve as one of the showcase venues for the Games of 2022 in British Columbia this weekend.

All that soft sand that’s been trucked in from Lake Purden means soft, cushioned landings as Lank dives for the ball on a comeback and no more scraped knees and elbows from the rocky surface of Lhedili T’enneh Memorial Park which once served as beach volleyball. to research.

The new facility will be smashed this weekend as part of the 12-team (six men, six women) BC Games tournament and that means Prince George no longer has to take a backseat to the Victoria, Vancouvers and the province’s Kelownas, where beach volleyball is well established on the summer sports scene with proper courts that don’t require first aid kits.

“It’s beautiful here and it’s great in a small town like this to have something new like this to practice on,” said Noah Lank, who partnered with Esme Long , his classmate from Duchess Park, to form the Zone 8 men’s team. (Cariboo-Northeast) in the BC Games tournament.

“I think these new courts are going to help a lot more kids get into beach volleyball and hopefully that will be more prominent in Prince George.”

Only four players were tried out for the Zone 8 men’s team and Annaleise Hansen and Alyssa Hansen, both of Prince George, were the only girls to sign up for spots on the Cariboo women’s beach team. -Nord Est. Receiver, who played for the senior team at Kelly Road Shas Ti last winter, says she won’t miss the old park courts.

“I’m really excited to use the new venue, we played Fort George last year and it was really bad, there was hardly any sand and it was like a gravel pit,” said declared Receiver. “Now with the new courts it’s a lot harder to move in, but now that we’ve gotten used to it it’s really nice.”

With only two players on each team, it’s a very different game to indoor hard-court volleyball.

“It’s more of a strategy game,” Receiver said. “You’re more focused on shooting and placement than hitting the ball really hard.”

Receiver started playing beach volleyball two years ago and with Hansen as their partner, they had success last year beating 17- and 18-year-olds. The Games tournament is open to beach players 18 and under, so most of their opponents this weekend will be older.

Lank and Long are both 17, while Receiver and Hansen are 16, and all are too old to compete in the indoor volleyball tournament at the Games, which is for athletes 15 and under. The chance to represent their zone at their hometown Games in front of friends and family and join the parade of athletes tonight at the CN Center during the Opening Ceremony is a unique thrill for all of them.

“I think it will be a really good experience to play in real sand,” Hansen said. “It’s going to be fun and we’re going to make some new friends and it will definitely be a challenge for us as we’re 16 but I’m really excited. Obviously some of the girls who live in Vancouver have had a lot more time to train because of the weather, but I think it will still be fun.

Hansen, who plays high school volleyball for College Heights Secondary, is just five-foot-two and says his lack of height isn’t as disadvantageous as it can be on the hard court.

“I play libero indoors, so playing at the beach you can dip more and it doesn’t hurt as much, and you get a lot of touches,” she said. “Range is about smart plays, it’s not just about hitting. Being a small player, it’s better to hit better spots than just smack the ball. We’ve never played in a real beach tournament, so it will be a good experience for us.

Lank and Esme had a practice game on Thursday morning against the Kootenay team (Ayden Wells and Riley Murray of Elkford) and it was the first time the home team had the chance to play on a 30 pitch feet X 60 feet using boundaries defined by nylon strips laid on the sand. Before that, they had just drawn lines in the sand for their practices.

“We’ve been training on much bigger pitches, so we have to adjust our shots and everything,” Esme said. “We’re mostly indoor guys, so we drew a lot bigger lines.”

Long likes the fact that he doesn’t have to travel to compete in a tournament with the best in the province. He never had this chance in his volleyball career. Most of the tournaments he’s played for the Duchess Park Condors or Prince George Volleyball Club teams involve one-day roadtrips.

“I think it’s kind of cool that all the bigger places come to us for once, usually we’re the ones doing the high road,” Long said. I heard some guys (from another area) commenting on how strenuous a nine hour drive was. It’s good to hear that. It’s cool that we can show off what we have here.

The Prince George club organized a beach volleyball league last summer which brought out a few players but the lack of facilities has been a definite drag on stagnant growth. The club now has plans for a youth and adult league.

“Last year when I was in charge of the youth league, the kids came home with bloody knees and elbows every time because it was more gravel than sand,” said the PGVC manager, Ben Receiver.

The BC Games tournament begins Friday at 9 a.m. The Cariboo-Northeast boys open at 9 a.m. against Vancouver-Coastal, while the Zone 8 girls face the Kootenays in their opener at 10 a.m. Best-of-three matches continue until 5 p.m. Friday. The preliminary round ends on Saturday with matches at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The bronze medal game is Sunday at 9 a.m., followed by the battle for gold at 10 a.m.

All BC Games games and events are free to spectators.

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