Away from the hustle and bustle of Ashbridges Bay (Toronto), local beach volleyball talent along with a handful of out-of-towners gathered at the relative quiet of Moonlight Beach for the annual Ontario Volleyball Association tour stop in Sudbury in July.
The GTA tandem of Chloe Biel and Halle Rider, regulars in the winter scene with the Phoenix Volleyball Club, topped all competitors, winning both the 16U and 18U divisions during their weekend in Sudbury.
Biel and Rider knocked off the local team of Gabrielle Huneault and Justine Tubin in both finals, besting the Sudbury Staxx representatives 21-7, 21-13 in the 16U finals on Sunday.
Visitors to the area completed their sweep as Andie Therkildsen and Lan-Vy Ho, who typically don the colours of the Aurora Storm, beat the C.R. Judd duo of Marissa Beeson and Natasha Gervais 21-18, 21-13 in the 14U gold-medal affair.
"We've played almost every tournament this summer," acknowledged Therkildsen. "This venue is a lot smaller than the ones we're used to playing on, but it's nice. It's quieter."
Like most beach volleyball players, the Aurora girls noted that a different skill set is required in order to translate on-court winter success to the summer sand and sun environment.
"It's not about who is the biggest hitter, it's about being the smartest players," said Therkildsen. "And how well you work with your partner. We place the ball really well."
Taking advantage of the local competition, Beeson and Gervais entered only their second tour stop of 2014. Teammates throughout the winter both with their school team and with the Northern Chill Volleyball Club, the girls maintain a closeness that extends well beyond the sport of volleyball.
"We've been friends since JK," said Beeson. "We started volleyball together in Grade 3. We have a strong connection, and actually spend almost every day together."
In other beach volleyball news, the local pairing of Taylor Wilkinson and Erica Thibault finished first in the 16U Challenger division at a tournament hosted earlier in July in Cobourg.
As well, both Tubin and Huneault, as well as Wilkinson and Thibault, will all be part of the local contingent that is heading to Windsor later this week for the 2014 Ontario Summer Games.