Australia top their pools at Trinbago 2023
Image courtesy of Commonwealth Games Australia
Australia’s beach volleyballers have started their Commonwealth Youth Games campaigns in the best possible style, recording straight sets victories on the opening two days of competition.
Mitch Croft (VIC) and Jett Rocker-Graham (NSW) were first on court on day one of competition, up against South Africa’s Jayden Cupido and Deloshen Valaitham.
After claiming the first set 21-13, Australia won the second 21-15 to win 2:0.
Next up were Jasmine Rayner (QLD) and Cameron Zajer (SA) who faced the English pair of Daisy Boardman and Alice Jagielska.
The first set was somewhat of a contest with Australia eventually winning by three points, however that opened the floodgates for a 21-8 second set and a comprehensive victory.
The women were on court first on day two against Rwanda’s Claire and Hygette Uwase. Australia went into the match as hot favourites and delivered the goods, winning 2:0 (21-14, 21-10).
Croft and Rocker-Graham played the final match of the day against Julian Bristol and Vickash Prakash Sundar from St Kitts & Nevis.
Like Rayner and Zajer, the Australian men’s pair was expected to win and built on a 21-13 first set to storm home 21-9 in the second.
“It’s been great to see how quickly both pairs have gelled on court together,” said coach Brianna Mears. “They are progressing every match and we are excited to keep it going.
“I think it’s a massive credit to them and their ability to learn and adapt in these games.”
Mears said that all four players are enjoying the environment the Commonwealth Youth Games provides, giving the athletes a unique opportunity to enjoy the success of teammates from other sports.
“Australia is off to a great start with some incredible results already,” she said. “Yesterday we all set up a guard of honour for the triathlon athletes and coaches after they won a gold and bronze.
“Everyone has been supporting everyone. It has been really special to share these moments with the wider Australian team.”
By topping their pools, both Australian teams earned a day off on Monday which enabled a light training session and recovery, some study for school back home, and scouting potential match-ups.
Following the playoff matches, Australia’s quarter-final opponents have now been decided.
Rayner and Zajer will face Scotland’s Alexandra Clegg-McKeown and Iona Bell who survived a three-set thriller against St Kitts & Nevis to progress to the final eight.
Rocker-Graham and Croft will meet England’s Peter Soczewka and Rob Morgan who enjoyed a comfortable victory over Sri Lanka on Monday.
The quarter-finals start at 11pm AEST on Tuesday night, with the Australian matches scheduled for midnight and 2am.
Classification matches, semis and medal matches will follow over the next two days.
VII Commonwealth Youth Games
Beach Volleyball – Pigeon Point Beach, Tobago
5-11 August 2023
Day 1 – Pool Game 1
Jett Rocker-Graham/Mitch Croft d South Africa 2:0 (21-13, 21-15)
Jasmine Rayner/Cameron Zajer d England 2:0 (21-18, 21-8)
Day 2 – Pool Game 2
Jasmine Rayner/Cameron Zajer v Rwanda 2:0 (21-14, 21-10)
Jett Rocker-Graham/Mitch Croft d St Kitts & Nevis 2:0 (21-13, 21-9)
Day 4 – Quarter-Finals
Wednesday 12am AEST Jasmine Rayner/Cameron Zajer v Scotland
Wednesday 2am AEST Jett Rocker-Graham/Mitch Croft v England
Wednesday 11pm AEST 5th-8th Semi-Finals
Thursday 1am AEST Semi-Finals
Thursday 6am AEST 5th/6th & 7th/8th playoffs
Friday 12am AEST Women’s Bronze Medal Match
Friday 1am AEST Men’s Bronze Medal Match
Friday 5am AEST Women’s Gold Medal Match
Fridau 6am AEST Men’s Gold Medal Match