“We had the pool of death.”
That’s how Logan Mend felt as he and Toronto’s Tomas Sorra couldn’t make it out of pool play in the International Volleyball Federation’s Beach Volleyball under-21 World Championship in Nanjing, China.
Their pool featured Mexico, Latvia and Spain. Latvia defeated Austria for bronze, while Spain finished seventh and Mexico eighth. Mend and Sorra were 25th. They opened against Latvia July 12, losing in two sets, 12-21 and 22-24. Against Spain, they also lost 21-23 and 16-21. Closing out against Mexico on July 13, they lost in three sets, 11-21, 24-26 and 15-8.
“Just the fact that our entire pool was challenging for that bronze medal, that’s really impressive,” said Mend, a former Pen High Laker, who plays for the York University Lions. “Really just unlucky on our part with the way our draw was set up.”
While in China, Mend said he played in the hardest conditions he has experienced with temperatures in the mid-30s to early 40s. On the first day the humidity was 100 per cent.
“You walk outside and you are drenched. I think I lost five pounds that trip,” he said.
Yet it was an amazing experience for the 20-year-old. Playing in an international championship, Mend learned what the next level is like, along with the consistency and intensity need. Mend and Sorra learned how key errors can be.
“Errors are very crucial at that next level. If you can get the other team to make an error or two, you got them,” he said. “At the U21 level, more errors are made, especially for a world tour. Once you get that break point, once you get them to make an error, you get a dig or you get a block, then that’s the game. You hold onto that one or two points, you just keep siding out with them until 21.”
Mend will return to Toronto later this month as his fourth season with the Lions begins. His next goal is to make the Canadian national B team next summer. If he accomplishes that, it will pay for his final year of school. He also has aspirations of playing professionally in Europe, but for now his focus is staying on the near future.