Canberra champions crowned at Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Tour
The opening leg of the Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Tour has been decided with an exciting day of finals in Canberra.
In the men’s under 21 competition, Kaia Clarkin and D’Artagnan Potts came from a set down in the final to outlast top seeds Ben Hood and Lucas Josefsen.
Both pairs topped their pools ahead of comfortable quarter-final victories on Thursday. Clarkin and Potts needed to work harder in their semi to make the final, and it looked to be taking its toll in the decider when Hood and Josefsen took the first set 21-15.
The tables were turned with Clarkin and Potts claiming the second set 23-21, laying the platform for an exciting finish. The second seeds continued their resurgence, surviving a match point to eventually claim the third set 18-16.
“We got smashed in the first set,” said Clarkin. “We came into the second set pretty confident that we had what it takes and we turned it around.
“Got to the third, we were down a bit, down match point but we stuck together, we kept going and it paid off in the end.”
The job isn’t over for the victorious pairing who must put celebrations on the backburner to move out of the junior ranks and compete in the Australian Beach Volley Tour event across the weekend.
“We just wanted to put the ball in court and try to hit the ball hard,” said Potts. “It feels pretty unreal at the moment to be honest. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
In the women’s U21 event, West Australians Lizzie Alchin and Cassie Dodd justified their top seeding with some commanding performances en route to the Canberra title.
After winning their pool games on Thursday, Alchin and Dodd moved into the semis with a 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) victory over Brielle Kettleton and Lexie Zammit in the quarter-finals.
Playing in their very first tournament together, they accounted for fourth seeds Kendel Haslett and Ruby Vanloo 2-0 (21-15, 21-13) in the semis to qualify for the final against third seeds Brianna Mears and Lauren Brasell.
After falling behind early, the top seeds edged in front with a 21-19 first set before running away with the match 21-12 in the second.
“It was really exciting to be able to win the gold,” said Dodd. “It was our first time playing together, so it was good to see that all of our training has paid off.
“We were down at the start but managed to get our momentum going.”
Alchin said that the pair had gelled as a combination, but also played a smart game to overcome a tough start to the final.
“I think we worked really well together and stuck to our game plan,” said Alchin. “We tried to focus on our game and what we could do on our side.”
The women’s U19 event was taken out by top-seeded Samantha Pila and Milla Smith who won 12 unbroken sets throughout the tournament.
Like their finals opponents, second-seeded South Australians Georgina Vanloo and Cameron Zajer had also not dropped a set on their way to the decider, however the Victorian combination was too strong with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-15) win in the final.
Having played last season together, Pila said the pair were on the same page which enabled them to save one of their strongest performances of the tournament for the final.
”We feel very bonded; we know what we need to do,” said Pila. “We wanted to stay loud, and keep calm and composed.
“It was one of our best games this week. We worked hard for this.”
The pair will play together in the ABVT over the weekend, with Smith happy with where their combination is heading.
“We just want to play our own game, stay structured and keep our energy up,” she said.
The men’s U19 draw was always going to be hotly-contested, and when the top two seeds were knocked out in the semi-finals, there was anticipation as to which pairing would come out on top.
Queenslanders Jerome Mak and Tim Phillipe didn’t drop a set through to the semi-finals where they came up against top seeds Adax Brienen and Adam Fejes. The fourth seeds eventually triumphed 17-15 in the decider to earn a place in the final.
Third seeds Charlie Beard and Jay Tregeagle topped their pool on Thursday but were forced to go the distance to progress through the round of 16 and quarter-finals. A straight sets win in the semis pushed them through to the gold medal match.
Mak and Phillippe were out of the blocks quickly to take the first set of the final 21-10, and while Beard and Tregeagle pushed them all the way, a 21-19 second set put the gold medal around the Queenslanders’ necks.
The opening qualification matches of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour also took place today in Canberra, with teams vying for the last remaining spots in Saturday’s main draw. The ABVT will continue throughout the weekend, with victors to be crowned on Sunday afternoon. To watch live, tune in to youtube.com/ausvolley.
Click here for full results from ABJVT Canberra
Click here for the draws, seedings and results from ABVT Canberra