Schoon and Stam were the youngest duo in Tokyo, with Schoon being the youngest to ever qualify, and held their own. Knowing that makes the now 20-year-old Schoon proud, but “there is still a lot of time to grow.” Her 23-year-old counterpart is proud as well, “proud of the results we got over the last couple of weeks and also last year. So, in that way I think we are rising right now.”
Both of their faces light up when speaking about last year’s European Championships in Vienna. They started out with a loss against Switzerland’s third team, and didn’t think they’d make it far. “I was like, okay, we just got the Olympics, we’re tired. Fuck beach volleyball, I didn’t like that we lost,” the tall blocker recalls. The Dutch team told each other about their frustrations and then they “just played free”. The duo played some of their best beach volleyball and landed square in the finale, in which they lost against an even higher ranked Swiss’ pair. Nevertheless, they were delighted.
Their laid back attitude meshed with simply having fun, has since catapulted them to number one in the FIVB World Rank. But the level of the international top 16 is even enough to have it go in anyone’s favour, says Stam. “We are now number one in the world, but if we have one or two bad results we will drop immediately.” The challenge will be to cling onto their position throughout the season.