Aussies Win Gold And Silver At Gold Coast Beach Volleyball Pro Tour
Australia have won gold and silver at the Volleyball World Gold Coast Beach Pro Tour on Coolangatta Beach today, with an all-Australian final in the women’s beach volleyball competition.
Top seeds Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming sailed into the final without dropping a set over the five day competition. They faced sixth seeds Jana Milutinovic and Stefanie Fejes, who were backing up after a tough three-set semifinal against the Vanuatu pair of Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko earlier in the day.
The Beach Pro Tour gold medal game was a re-match of the Australian Championships final last Sunday, which Johnson and Fleming won in a tight three set tussle.
While Johnson and Fleming took an early lead in the first set, Milutinovic and Fejes were determined to reverse the result of their last meeting, and brought the score back to level at 19-all, before the underdogs pushed ahead to secure the opening set 22-20.
Full of confidence, Milutinovic and Fejes continued the momentum in the second set, securing a straight set victory, and their first Beach Pro Tour title, 2:0 (22-20, 21-11).
“I’m speechless, I’m just feeling pure emotion and it’s pretty amazing,” Milutinovic said. “We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time and I couldn’t be prouder of our team.
“It’s always tough, but we came out here and gave it our all. Service pressure was our focus and it certainly paid off,” she said.
18-year-old Fejes said today’s victory reflected the big changes she’s recently made to pursue her beach volleyball career, starting full time with the women’s Developing Beach Volleyroos program based at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
“Three months ago I moved my whole life up to Brisbane, moving away from my family and it’s just amazing that I get to pursue my dream and they’re always here to support me, and the national program as well…their support has been amazing,” Fejes said,
“I’m so happy, we really fought hard for this and gave it everything we had. It’s a new partnership but we’re so excited to see where this can go,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Vanuatu’s Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko defeated Canada’s Darby Dunn and Olivia Furlan in three sets (24-22, 21-16, 15-6) for the women’s bronze medal.
“We want to thank all our supporters, those who came over here to support us and those back home in Vanuatu, we’re very happy and proud of ourselves,” Toko said.
Having recently gone through Tropical Cyclones Judy and Kevin in Vanuatu, Toko said the team’s ability to compete in Australia was a significant achievement.
“We really enjoyed our time here. We just passed the cyclone at home to come here so we’re just so happy we could take part in this competition. After the cyclone, we know our supporters back home in Vanuatu will be so happy for us and we thank them for their support and our sponsors.”
Following their victory two weeks ago at the Mt Maunganui Beach Pro Tour in New Zealand, China’s Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu won back-to-back men’s Pro Tour medals, claiming gold on the Gold Coast.
The Chinese pair took an early lead in the gold medal match against the third seeds from Thailand, Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato, comfortably securing the first set 21-9.
However the Thai team bounced back in the second, with both teams challenging a number of set points. Ha and Wu eventually prevailed to secure the Gold Coast gold medal in straight sets (21-9, 25-23).
“We’re very happy, this has given us motivation and confidence to play on,” Jiaxin said.
“We’ve had a really enjoyable time in Australia, it’s very beautiful.”
In the men’s bronze medal match USA’s Jordan Hoppe and Charles Siragusa overcame Germany’s Simon Kulzer and Bennet Poniewaz in three sets (18-21, 21-14, 15-12).
Hoppe and Siragusa were the lowest seeded team in the main draw, after advancing through the qualifying rounds, and were excited to advance all the way through to the medal rounds.
“I’m feeling really good, we had to battle a long way to get here, not only to get to Australia, but to go through the qualifiers and to get to the bronze medal match, so we’re pumped up,” Hoppe said.
“Obviously when you make it out of the qualifying, making it to the medal matches is always a challenge, but it was cool we were able to do it,” Siragusa added.
The Beach Pro Tour finals brought to close the four-event Volleyslam Festival, with only 1500 athletes competing on Coolangatta Beach over the 10-day period.
See all Beach Pro Tour results HERE