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Aussies aplenty on Super Sunday at Mollymook

Aussies aplenty on Super Sunday at Mollymook

The opening Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour tournament of the season comes to a close tomorrow with four Australian teams certain to play off for medals in Mollymook.

The top two seeds in the men’s draw are just one win away from setting up an all-Australian final after both played their best matches of the tournament in the quarter-final.

Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis were given a stern contest by Israeli duo Tomer Hadar and David Lanciano, however victory was never in doubt with a confidence building 21-15, 21-16 win.

“Hats off to the Israel guys, they put up a big challenge for us today to get through,” said Carracher. “Good preparation for tomorrow so time to rest up and get going.”

The top seeds will face Banlue Nakprakhong and Wachirawit Muadpha on Super Sunday after the Thai duo upset Japanese fourth seeds Yusuke Ishijima and Kensuke Shoji in three sets.

Second seeds Paul Burnett and Jack Pearse were in imperious form on Saturday, conceding just 20 points in their demolition of Canadian third seeds Jake MacNeil and Alexander William Russell.

Burnett said the pair had a clear focus coming into the match which they were successful in executing.

“Really happy with that performance, that’s the sort of style of game we want to be playing every game,” he said. “Jack played really well, hit really high and I think that was the key, was just being a bit too big today.”

Burnett and Pearse – who won the final Futures event of 2023 in Geelong – have the opportunity to take back-to-back titles but will first need to get past Jordan Hoppe and James Shaw of the United States.

After beating Australian surprise-packets Declan Tiso and Rob Reeves in the quarter-finals, Hoppe and Shaw have now made the final four of their first-ever Futures tournament together. Hoppe, however, has had success in Australia before, taking away the bronze medal from the Coolangatta Futures last year with Charles Siragusa.

In the women’s draw, Australia is assured of a finalist with the top two teams this summer facing off in the semi-finals tomorrow.

Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming have had to come through the draw the hard way after falling in their opening pool match on Thursday then needing to come back from a set down in this morning’s round of 12. However they showed some of their best form of the tournament in their quarter-final victory over Japan’s Megumi Murakami and Riko Tsujimura to keep alive their chance of consecutive Futures wins after their Geelong victory in November.

Fleming said their quarter-final opponents forced them to be thoughtful in their tactics, particularly as the second set went past 21 points and they needed to be in position to take their chance at victory.

“These guys are so crafty and they were siding out really well at the end there, we just needed to make that one play so it was nice for them to hit into me [on match point]!” she said.

Johnson and Fleming will come up against Stefie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic for the sixth time in the last twelve months, with the duos facing off in two Australian Beach Volleyball Tour event finals already this season.

Fejes and Milutinovic won an all-Australian quarter-final against Lizzie Alchin and Jasmine Rayner who scored their first top five Futures result as a combination.

Despite taking out the national tour final last Sunday, Fejes said the pair are not totally satisfied with their form this week but feel like they’re finding their groove with every match.

“We always want to play better and better and I feel through this tournament we’re also building, our last tournament we were building – we’re always building – that’s the excitement of it,” she said.

Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami won a marathon 54-point opening set against fourth seeds Linline Matauatu and Majabelle Lawac from Vanuatu in their quarter-final, and the tone was set for the final result with the Japanese pair conceding just 12 more points to book their place in the final four.

There they will face Alaina Chacon and Mariah Whalen who overcame qualifiers Delaney Peranich and Charlie Ekstrom in an all-American quarter-final. Playing in their first Futures event together, Chacon and Whalen are in good form having finished runner-up on the New Zealand national tour a fortnight ago.

Semi-finals commence at 8am AEDT on Sunday, followed by the medal matches from 12:30pm AEDT.

All matches on Sunday can be streamed live through SBS On Demand.

VOLLEYBALL WORLD BEACH PRO TOUR FUTURES
Mollymook NSW | 28 February-3 March 2024

Men’s Semi-Finals

8am AEDT [1] Izac Carracher/Mark Nicolaidis (AUS) v [11] Banlue Nakprakhong/Wachirawit Muadpha (THA)
9am AEDT [2] Paul Burnett/Jack Pearse (AUS) v [10] Jordan Hoppe/James Shaw (USA)

Women’s Semi-Finals

10am AEDT [2] Georgia Johnson/Jasmine Fleming (AUS) v [3] Stefie Fejes/Jana Milutinovic (AUS)
11am AEDT [13] Alaina Chacon/Mariah Whalen (USA) v [7] Suzuka Hashimoto/Reika Murakami (JPN)

Medal Matches

12:30pm AEDT Men’s Bronze Medal Match
followed by Women’s Bronze Medal Match
followed by Men’s Gold Medal Match
followed by Women’s Gold Medal Match

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