Martin Reader and Josh Binstock added a ton of Canadian grit to the 5,000 tonnes of sand at the Horse Guards Parade men’s beach volleyball venue Wednesday at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Canadian team wrapped up preliminary round pool with a 2-0 (21-18, 24-22) loss to the heavily-favoured Brazilian duo of Pedro Cunha and Ricardo Santos, but battled hard for each and every point.
Canada finished third in their four-team pool at 1-2 while Brazil finished unbeaten to advance to the round of 16. Canada plays the third-place finisher from another of the six pools on Thursday, and a win in that “lucky loser” contest would advance Canada to the round of 16.
On Wednesday, the Brazilians took the first set 21-18 with Binstock being called for three foot faults on his serves. Brazil led 16-12 at one point, with Canada drawing close at 20-18 when Reader faked a big hit and instead tipped the ball into an open spot. However, his ensuing serve went into the net, giving Brazil the win.
The two teams were never more than two points apart in the second set. Key digs by Binstock and heavy attacks by Reader allowed the Canadians to stave off several match points before Cunha snapped a 22-22 deadlock with a deep roll shot and powerful spike.
“This was such an amazing opportunity to play a match like that on this stage,” Reader said. “We had a really good game plan. It was fun and we played a really high level of volleyball. I’m looking forward to our next match.”
“We really thought we could win the game,” Binstock said. “It was good to battle them; they are one of the best teams in the world. We didn’t lose it, they took it.”
The Canadians were cheered on by a large contingent of their compatriots in the Horse Guard’s Parade crowd as they gave the powerful Brazilian squad a good run for their money.
Reader, from Comox, finished with one service ace and three blocks and had one of his spin serves clocked at 79 km/h.
“It was a great match and they were two tough sets with only a small points’ difference,” said Cunha, whose partner Ricardo won Olympic gold in 2004. “We played our best and finished pool play with three wins. It means we go straight to the quarter-finals and have a few days rest which is important in a long tournament like this.”