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Arvia: Lincoln-Way East duo ‘winging it’ to the beach

Lincoln-Way East seniors be DanVan Dyck (left) SarBuchbach stwith their North Avenue Beach volleyball tourney trophy MokenIllinois Friday July 13

Lincoln-Way East seniors to be Dana Van Dyck (left) and Sara Buchbach stand with their North Avenue Beach volleyball tourney trophy in Mokena, Illinois, Friday, July 13, 2012. Winning the tournament qualifyied them for the Jr. Olympics tourney in Hermosa Beach, Calif., on July 28th. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media

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A little help?

Sara Buchbach and Dana Van Dyck are seeking sponsors for their trip to the AAU West Junior Olympics beach volleyball tournament July 28 and 29 in Hermosa Beach, Calif. They’ve circulated a letter to potential sponsoring businesses, which reads in part, “We’re not looking for a handout, we’re looking for a helping hand. We’d be happy to show our appreciation by volunteering at your business for a day.”

More information about sponsorship opportunities is available by emailing Buchbach at sarabuchback@gmail.com

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Updated: August 17, 2012 6:39AM



OK, they look like they’ve spent a fair amount of time at the beach, what with the sun-lightened hair and tans and all.

But to look at Sara Buchbach and Dana Van Dyck, 17-year-old seniors-to-be at Lincoln-Way East, is not to immediately think, “beach volleyball,” let alone “beach volleyball champs.” They are — how to put this politely? — less than tall.

“Yeah, we’re both pretty short,” Buchbach conceded. “Like 5-7.”

Buchbach a little more “like” than Van Dyck, who’ll cop to 5-foot-6 when pressured. Either way, the mock indignation summoned when the subject is introduced quickly fades to smiles, as if the friends, fellow Mokena residents and beach partners, know a secret.

Being tall doesn’t mean as much in the beach game as being smart, and fast, and able to get up and down, up and down, up and down — all day, if necessary.

Those attributes have lifted Buchbach, an outside hitter on East’s varsity, and Van Dyck, the starting libero, to wins in the three beach tourneys they’ve entered together. The last of those three, coming over 21 other teams July 7 at North Avenue Beach, qualified the duo for the AAU West Coast Junior Olympic Games July 28 and 29 in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

They are eager for the trip. “For the competition,” Van Dyck said.

“We just kind of wing every tournament,” she added. “These other girls, they all have coaches.”

Coaches who seem to end up trying to calm their players — their taller players — down.

“We’re both pretty smart players,” Buchbach said. “We just place it. It’s not all about how high we jump and kill it.”

Case in point, the title match at the North Avenue Beach Ball.

“We were actually playing one of our club team’s enemies, (players from) Carpe Diem,” Buchbach, like Van Dyke a player for Frankfort-based Ultimate Volleyball Club, said. “They’re both middles, sisters. They were pretty tall. They can kill it.”

Jenn and Megan Vander Meer, of Grand Rapids, Mich., are listed at 5-8 and 5-9 respectively — hardly giants. No matter.

“They were killing us,” Buchbach said of what became a 25-21 win. “Slowly, we started coming back, getting in their heads. They started fighting, because they’re sisters, so it worked to our advantage.”

Seeing increasingly irked opponents has been a common occurrence for Buchbach and
Van Dyck.

“We’ve always liked playing defense together,” Van Dyck said. “You can hit it as hard as you want at us — it’s coming back. You have to play with patience. I feel like (opponents) get frustrated.”

Well, “always” might be a bit of a stretch. After all, Van Dyck only started playing for Lincoln-Way East as a sophomore, after moving to Mokena from Matteson and playing at Marian Catholic as a freshman. But the two have logged long hours on the courts at Mokena’s Main Park, and according to East coach Linda Vivona, it shows.

Vivona conducts fitness and skills testing at tryouts at the beginning of each season.

“These two are definitely in the top five physically in the entire program,” she said.

“I believe, in order to be good on the beach, you need to be good volleyball players and you need to be very athletic — and they’re both,” Vivona added. “And not only are they technically smart ... but they’re also very good at communicating and they’re agile — they move quickly, they adjust. All these factors come into play when you’ve got a lot of area to cover and there’s only two of you.

“If you’re very good at digging balls and transitioning from defense to offense, you’ll win the rally.”

Of course, it helps to be smart. Like, when it’s 100 degrees out, sand gets hot. Really hot.

Despite playing in socks during an Extreme Volleyball Professionals Pro-Am on the Fourth of July in Michigan City, Ind., Buchbach said, “We still got blisters.”

And they still won. Because?

“We’re really quick on our feet,” she said, “and we talk a lot.”

And?

“There’s always a stronger girl on the other team,” Van Dyck said. “We always pick the weaker girl and serve it to her every time.”



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