New Minas' Monette competes on world court

Jennifer Hoegg
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International beach volleyball outing a golden opportunity

By Jennifer Hoegg

Soft sand, big crowds and a strong wind greeted Hillary Monette at Sandjam.

“The first (match) was pretty shaky,” she says. “We were really nervous and the first set was pretty rough. Once the nerves were gone, we were better.”

The 19-year-old Acadia student and playing partner Meaghan MacDougall, Hammonds Plains, were the first Nova Scotia team to play in the Swatch world junior beach volleyball championships held in Halifax last week.

Monette said the international centre court setting with announcer, large crowd and media attention was new, but the hometown experience was a plus. 

“That was the best: playing in front of our friends and family was less overwhelming and stressful for us.”

The Horton grad has had whirlwind year. After five years of competing together, she and MacDougall won the Atlantic championship in Shediac and made it to the    quarterfinals at the national tournament in Vancouver.

They weren’t supposed to even have a berth at the Halifax tourney. At a qualifier for the world juniors last month in Toronto, the duo was again eliminated in the quarterfinals. Disappointment changed to optimism when they were selected as an alternate for worlds.  After teams had to pull out of the competition, Monette and MacDougall were called up.

“It was awesome,” Monette recalled. “We found out Tuesday night at 8 and our first game was at 11 a.m. Wednesday. We knew there was a slight chance we could make it, so we decided to practice and play … so we could be prepared.”

In their opening match Aug. 29, Monette and MacDougall met the top team from Germany and lost in straight sets, 21-8, 21-14. Later in the day, they dropped a 21-12, 21-10 match to Norway.

The pair met Venezuela Aug. 30, losing 22-20 and 21-19 in a tight match.

“It was a nail biter,” Monette said. “I’m glad we ended on a good note.”

While her beach volleyball season is over, the kinesiology student will be back on the indoor court with the Acadia varsity team soon. Her Acadia coach says the summer season has been good for Monette and will benefit her in high-pressure game situations.

“Hillary has invested a significant amount of time to training this summer,” Michelle Wood said. “It was great to see that she was fortunate enough to be granted an opportunity to compete among the best junior beach volleyball players in the world.”

Monette is looking forward to the fall season, but prefers the sand court.

“With indoor, there are six people, so you don’t touch (the ball) every time. (With beach) there’s more action, its more interactive.  You have to be more attentive because there are only two of you.

 There’s another difference outdoors: the weather. 

“When the weather is really nice, it’s nice to play outside,” she said, but “you still have to play if it’s raining, unless it’s thunder and lightning. The wind is a huge factor; it was very windy in Halifax.”

 With files from John DeCoste


Geographic location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Shediac Vancouver Toronto Germany Norway Venezuela

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