Australia Win Men’s Asian Beach Volleyball Championships Gold & Silver
Thomas Hodges and Zach Schubert have come out victorious in the all-Australian final of the Asian Volleyball Confederation Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in Pingtan, China tonight.
Hodges/Schubert defeated fellow Aussies and 2022 Commonwealth Games Champions Chris McHugh and Paul Burnett in the gold medal match 2:0 (21-17, 21-18), with both teams securing valuable world ranking points that contribute to qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
It’s Hodges and Schubert’s second major tournament victory in as many weeks, after the pair won the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Jurmala, Latvia last weekend.
Sunday’s quarterfinals provided two of the most challenging clashes for both teams, with Hodges and Schubert defeating Tokyo 2020 Olympic bronze medallists and 2022 Asian Champions Cherif Younousse and Ahmed Tijan (Qatar) 2-0 (27-25, 21-19). McHugh and Burnett also knocked out fellow Aussies Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher 2:0 (21-17, 21-11) to advance to Sunday’s semifinals
Both teams had convincing semifinal victories to set up an all-Aussie clash in the final. In a very close gold-medal match, it was Schubert and Hodges who kept their winning streak running in two sets 17-21, 18-21.
Schubert said he was thrilled to win his first Asian Championship title, and enjoyed the challenge of facing off with his Aussie teammates.
“We had a great game against the other Aussie team, it’s always really fun whenever we play against them because we know each other so well, so it’s always a great challenge on both sides of the court trying to work out what each other is going to do,” Schubert said. “It was a really exciting game and we absolutely loved the challenge.
“We’ve won some Asian Tour events before but never the Asian Championships, so it’s the first for both of us and we’re really happy about that,” he said.
Hodges said the team have been finding their groove during the international tour, and their hard work is coming to fruition.
“It was a massive week and we just couldn’t think too far ahead; I can’t believe we made it this far to be honest,” Hodges said.
“I think we’ve been playing our volleyball one point at a time, one game at a time and having a lot of patience and belief in our volleyball and it’s really paid off. It’s fantastic and really exciting to get two tournament wins in a row.”
Australian Beach Volleyball Coach Simon Naismith said that the coaching staff’s game approach has to shift when two teams face off.
“We have a rule amongst our groups that there will be no pre-match coaching at all, we just let the teams go after it. We provide them with any video or data that they want in their preparations, but we basically don’t talk to either team and let them just go for it, and sit back and enjoy the contest.
“Today was pretty tight, it was a little bit tighter than the score suggested, but Tom and Zach really earnt their victory for sure, they played extremely well.”
Hodges, Schubert, McHugh and Burnett are off the Europe in the morning for a training camp in Spain ahead of the next Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Challenge event in Portugal in two weeks, while Carracher and Nicolaidis will make their way to Gstaad, Switzerland, where they will join Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Taliqua Clancy at the Beach Pro Tour Elite 16 event, starting on 5 July.
See all results from the 2023 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships HERE