Jeff Ducharme photo/Telegraph-Journal

Beach teams undefeated

by Kevin Barrett - Wednesday, August 19, 2009

This article is courtesy of Telegraph-Journal

Jill Blanchard of Saint John entered the Canada Games as the face of New Brunswick beach volleyball that many elite level players in the country knew.

But Blanchard, who recently wrapped up an intensive stretch with the national team program credits her partner Hilary Cummings of Sussex for the most important match of the Canada Games thus far for the women's beach volleyball duo.

"Having Hilary play an amazing game, they didn't know what to expect from her," Blanchard said after a 2-0 victory over British Columbia that pushed New Brunswick to 3-0 thus far at the Games.

"They have never seen her play and that was a huge advantage for us. Hilary hit the key shots and played an amazing game."

New Brunswick squeaked out a 24-22 triumph over the B.C. team of Shanice Marcelle and Kara Jansenvandoorn in the first set that could have gone either way to set the stage for the victory.

"Definitely having that first set was huge because of the way we battled and the fact it was so tight and to win it like that, it was a real momentum boost," Blanchard said.

In the second set, New Brunswick earned another tight win, this time 21-19.

"That victory was huge," Blanchard said. "We knew coming in we had a chance at it but we just had to put our entire effort into it and leave nothing on the court and go all out."

She credits steady play through the game, an approach back by the stats sheet.

New Brunswick made more kills (25-20) and more digs (17-9) and in doing so, continued their positive momentum generated on the first day.

"We kind of played steady throughout the entire match and that was one of the keys to our success - that we stayed calm and stayed in control of our own game," said Blanchard, a key player at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton.

Next up is Ontario, with Dianne Burrows and Caleigh Whitaker, who have both represented Canada on the world stage.

New Brunswick and Ontario are both 3-0 in Pool D and they face off today at 10 a.m. Blanchard and Cummings wrap up preliminary action with a 5 p.m. date against winless Newfoundland and Labrador.

The top team in each pool advances directly to the semifinal round while the second and third place squads cross over with teams from Pool A in the quarter-final round.

In men's action, the New Brunswick team of Ryley Boldon of Fredericton and Kyle Blanchard of Saint John downed the host Prince Edward Island squad of Andrew Costa and Brian Hansen 2-0 to remain perfect at 3 -0 as well.

The set scores were 21-15 and 27-25.

Boldon slammed 21 kills and got 12 digs in the contest while Kyle Blanchard slammed seven kills and recorded 13 kills.

In all, N.B. won the battle of the net with a 28-20 edge in kills and they were better defensively with 25 digs to 18 for P.E.I.

The team rounds out preliminary action today at 10 a.m. against British Columbia, which is also 3-0.

At stake is a berth in the semifinal round. The loser advances to the quarter-final round.