Participating in their first beach volleyball tournament together in several years, Raychel and Camryn Ehlers swept their way to the 2020 Beach Bum Blast championship gold last weekend in Ocean City, Md.
Older sister Raychel, 17, has been playing on the beach volleyball circuit for the past several years, and has made quite the name for herself in the process. Younger sister Camryn, 14, has not spent a lot of time on the sand, and was playing in her first beach tourney of the season.
“It was really great to be able to play in a tournament with my sister again,” Camryn Ehlers said of the experience. “I don’t get to play a lot on the sand, but it was really a great experience.”
The Ehlers sisters were a perfect 5-0 over the course of the tournament, dropping just one set in the process. That set came in the championship match against the team of Wood/Wolfe.
“With everything that has been going on with the pandemic, this was the first one they’ve been able to play,” said Tanya Ehlers, the girls’ mother. “I was actually surprised this one wasn’t canceled. So it was good. It was the first one since last year.
“They’ve been practicing with their personal coaches Bob and Joyce Parker,” Tanya Ehlers noted. “They actually live down in Florida, and move up here for the summer. The girls usually train with [Delaware Volleyball Association], but this year, with everything going on, I think this is safer.”
The Ehlers sisters, who came into the tournament ranked as the fourth seed, cruised in their first-round contest — 21-6, 21-8 — taking out the Frigaard/Lever duo, who were the fifth seed. From there, they battled a tough Adams/Bounds team to a 21-17 and 22-20 win.
In the quarterfinals, it was a walk in the park, as the Ehlerses crushed the team of Osmon/Townsend, 21-2 and 21-3.
“Raychel is really comfortable playing in the sand, and probably actually prefers it more,” said Tanya Ehlers. “She played in several beach tournament before, including last year with a girl that she will be going to college with. Camryn probably prefers playing more inside because that is what she is used to, but she performed really well in this tournament.”
In the semifinals, the Ehlerses had another easy run with a 21-7, 21-13 decision over Basler/Ganfield.
Then it was on to the finals, where the Ehlers sisters faced their stiffest test of the entire tournament, against the second-seeded Wood/Wolfe team. After taking the first set 21-15, the Ehlerses found themselves all even following a 21-15 setback in the second set. In the decisive championship final set, Raychel and Camryn Ehlers fought off a valiant effort from their opponents to hold on for a 15-13 championship-clinching win.
“It was great to watch them play together,” Tanya Ehlers said of the experience. “Having not played together in close to three years and for them to go out and win the whole thing was really special.”
With so much uncertainty still surrounding COVID-19, the Ehlerses aren’t sure when they’ll get another chance to play together. However, they’ll always have this championship to look back upon, and can always call themselves champions.