Australian Beach Volleyball Champions Crowned On Coolangatta Beach
Australia Beach Volleyball Champions have been crowned on Coolangatta Beach today, with Queenslanders Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming, and Mateusz Zieba (Poland) and Daniele Acconci (Italy) winning the national titles.
Coming in as the number one seeds, Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming, who had their first taste of national glory at the Canberra Australian Beach Volleyball Tour (ABVT) in January, met Stefanie Fejes (NSW) and Jana Milutinovic (SA) in the finals.
Fleming and Johnson had a rocky start to the game, losing the first set 18-21, before changing their tactical game for the second set and powering through the third to claim their first ever national title 2:1 (18-21, 21-11, 15-11).
Johnson said the team’s ability to change their tactics after the first set was their secret to success on Coolangatta Beach.
“I’m just so pumped that all the hard work is paying off, we’ve been grinding so hard in training over the past few months, so it’s really exciting to get the Championship win for the first time,” Johnson said.
“We really had to test our tactical game against Stef and Jana, they really made us think hard. We had a big tactical change in the second set which really paid off, we got a good score line in the second and then just tried to play hard through the third.”
“Obviously winning isn’t everything, it’s the way that you win and I think the relationship that Georgia and I have and the way we competed this weekend really just helps with our love of the sport,” added Fleming.
The team will now turn their focus to the Volleyball World Coolangatta Beach Pro Tour Futures event, that gets underway on Wednesday.
“This will give us some good confidence heading into that big tournament for sure,” Johnson said.
“It’s a beautiful beach, beautiful conditions, so we’re really excited to go out and play our hardest against some international teams and see where that takes us,” added Fleming.
Stefanie Weiler (VIC) and Rebecca Ingram (QLD) were awarded the women’s bronze medal after their opponents Nikki Laird and Britt Kendall unfortunately had to withdraw after the semifinals.
In the Men’s final, the ABVT Tour Leaders Mateusz Zieba and Daniele Acconci capped off their consistent season with a national title, defeating top seeds and U21 Australian Champions Lucas Josefsen (QLD) and Ben Hood (QLD) 2:1 (17-21, 21-14, 15-13).
In his fifth year on the national tour, Polish native Zieba has been on the podium in all four rounds of the ABVT this year. He joined forces with Italy’s Acconci in round 2 in Canberra, where the pair claimed their first Tour gold.
As international wild-cards on the Tour, the duo had to work their way through Friday’s qualifying tournament, making today’s victory even sweeter.
“It feels great to get the win,” Zieba said. “It was a very long season, especially as we had to play in all the qualifiers. This final was our eighth game of the tournament, but we won all of them and we deserve to win.
“It was a really tricky game, those guys [Hood & Josefsen] are just huge, so it’s hard for us to control the game because they oversize us a lot, so we need to be trickier and smarter and we had a bit of luck and we did it!”
Victoria’s Garang Anyang and Justin Schumann secured their third Australian Beach Volleyball Tour podium of the season, winning bronze after a 2:0 (21-13, 21-18) victory over Coolangatta local Rob Reeves and Matt Abela (VIC).
The Australian Championships are the first of four events that make up the 10-day Volleyslem festival, with the Scape Australian Youth Beach Volleyball Championships starting tomorrow.
International athletes have already started arriving for the Volleyball World Coolangatta Beach Pro Tour Futures starting on Wednesday and running until Sunday 2 April. The Scape Australian Beach Volleyball Schools Cup rounds out the festival, running 31 March – 2 April.