Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

BATTLE FOR THE TITLE – The Sand Rats and Kiss My Ace squared off in the championship game of the Community Beach Volleyball Challenge held Wednesday by the City of Whitehorse at Rotary Peace Park.

Volleyball players kick up the sand

Volleyball players making up 13 teams converged on the beach courts at Rotary Peace Park to play in the Community Beach Volleyball Challenge hosted by the City of Whitehorse on Wednesday evening.

By John Tonin on July 11, 2019

Volleyball players making up 13 teams converged on the beach courts at Rotary Peace Park to play in the Community Beach Volleyball Challenge hosted by the City of Whitehorse on Wednesday evening.

The mercury in the thermometer reached its highest point in the day, making it nice and hot albeit smoky; the sun did poke through periodically.

The tournament was previously known as the Corporate Volleyball Challenge, but the named was changed to include everyone from the community.

"We encourage all organizations, families, businesses, anybody is more than welcome to put in a team," said Adrienne Marsh, the special events co-ordinator for the City of Whitehorse. "It is $50 to put in a team and it is a lot of fun."

The beach courts are noticeable from the Robert Campbell Bridge into Riverdale, and seeing people playing and using the courts might inspire some people to utilize the facility.

"Yeah, absolutely," said Marsh. "It is just kind of a way to get people outside and enjoying our parks. Summers aren't very long here, so if we can enjoy the sunlight and the longer days, then (great)."

Keri Rutherford said the Community Beach Volleyball Challenge saw a good turnout, and that tends to be the case.

"It always seems to be full, the teams always seem to come out," said Rutherford. "Once we changed the name and opened it up a little more, it is just a great community engagement opportunity, and it's a way we can animate our park spaces which is important as well.

"People love it. Even driving into Riverdale, I notice that the courts are used a lot more than they ever used to be."

"Oh yeah, there are tons," added Marsh.

Both Rutherford and Marsh said it’s a great feeling to see the courts being used and enjoyed by people on any given night.

"I think it is great, using this, using the splash pad, they are over at shipyards park, they are at the literacy centre and they are playing in the fields there," said Rutherford. "I think it is awesome. We have beautiful parks here and our parks crew and the community do a really great job of keeping them clean and beautiful."

Before the games got started and after the teams had time to practise, they were all called to the pavilion at Rotary Peace Park to be introduced, show off their costumes, if they wore one, and to demonstrate their cheers.

The tournament ran as a double-elimination format. Once a team lost twice, they were out of the running to be crowned champion. Each game was played to 25 points, like one set of court volleyball.

The final game was played between the Sand Rats and Kiss My Ace. Sand Rats, earlier in the day had beaten Kiss My Ace to go straight to the final.

Kiss My Ace had to play Whiskey Flat with a berth in the championship game on the line.

They, Kiss My Ace, lived up to their name as they downed Whiskey Flat on a service ace that just barely made it over the top of the tape, falling short in front of the Whiskey Flat passers.

The final game was played on the middle beach court, and those teams that did not make it through remained to watch on the two unoccupied courts.

In the early goings, Kiss My Ace once again proved they were appropriately named as their first server rifled off five spin serves in a row that the Sand Rats had trouble handling to take an early 5-0 lead.

Even after conceding their first point, Kiss My Ace continued to apply the pressure. They got solid offence from all six positions on the court and even stronger defence as the Sand Rats were able to run their offence but even when they got a clean pass and were able to run their full set on offence Kiss My Ace was there to dig up the ball.

When the teams switched sides after Kiss My Ace made it to 11 points first, the tide of the game changed.

The Sand Rats began to chip away at the deficit. Getting back into their rhythm, their attackers began to find the holes in the opposing defence. When Kiss My Ace closed and pressed on their blocks, the Sand Rats were able to hit the ball off of the blockers hands for easy points.

The Kiss My Ace lead, which had maxed-out at six points, was now two, and after being unable to cleanly pass the Sand Rats serves, the game was tied at 20 apiece with five points remaining.

As quickly as the Sand Rats had appeared to swing the momentum of the game back into their favour, Kiss My Ace took it away.

Kiss My Ace was able to side-out and get a booming attack, which left a sizeable crater in the sand near the backline. Next, they were able to secure another ace, one of many for them, to take a two-point lead.

The Sand Rats were able to get a vicious attack of their own but it did not swing the tide of the game back their way because Kiss My Ace ratcheted up their defensive intensity and came up with the clutch offensive plays to reach 25 points first and win the Community Beach Volleyball Challenge.

Kiss My Ace, made up of players from the Canadian-Filipino Sports Association of Yukon, winter volleyball league, secured their fifth consecutive tournament title with the win.

Along with naming a tournament champion, awards were also given for the team with the best costume, best cheer and best team name.

Kiss My Ace added to their win total as they were honoured with having the best team name.

Dental Floss had the best cheer as they chanted about the merits of flossing and good dental hygiene.

The best costume went to The Killer Bees, who had on black T-shirts with yellow tape around them. Honourable mention goes to The Killer Bugs, who dressed like ladybugs and to the Boys and Girls Club who played in leis and hula skirts

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