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Double gold for Australia at Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour season-opener in Mollymook

Double gold for Australia at Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour season-opener in Mollymook

Australia has taken double gold at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Futures Mollymook to start 2024 off in style.

Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis won their first men’s Beach Pro Tour event since 2022, while Jana Milutinovic and Stefie Fejes continued their success from 2023 Coolangatta last year with their second women’s Futures title.

In the men’s final, top seeds Carracher and Nicolaidis were keen to get revenge on training partners and second seeds Paul Burnett and Jack Pearse who toppled them in the national tour last weekend.

After winning a tight first set by three, Carracher and Nicolaidis refused to let their opponents into the match, taking a match-winning lead early in the second which they never surrendered.

“We knew they were going to bring out a battle, we know each other so well – we’ve played each other at least a hundred times already this year so we knew they were going to bring it and really happy to get the job done,” said Carracher.

Nicolaidis paid credit to the Shoalhaven community which came out to support the event with a strong crowd lining the hill which provided the perfect amphitheatre to see some world class beach volleyball.

“We don’t get opportunities like this with the grassy hill, all the people here surrounding the court – it just makes it really fun and exciting for us and that’s where the energy came from,” he said. “It was liking having a third person on the court with us today.”

In the men’s bronze medal match, US pair Jordan Hoppe and James Shaw overcame a comeback from Thailand’s Banlue Nakprakhong and Wachirawit Muadpha to win in three sets. It was Hoppe’s second Beach Pro Tour Futures bronze on Australian sand after finishing third in Coolangatta last year alongside Charles Siragusa.

The women’s final was another rematch from last weekend with Fejes and Milutinovic taking on Japan’s Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami.

The contest started much like last week’s encounter with the Australians confidently taking the first set and leading well throughout the second.

Japan came back late in the second set and despite Fejes and Milutinovic serving at match point, the Suzuka and Reika maintained momentum and were able to force the match to a third set.

Unfortunately, the final came to a halt on the second point of the decider when Suzuka went to the ground at the net, clutching at her right knee.

Following a medical assessment on-court, the match was quickly called with the Japanese team unfortunately unable to continue.

“That was definitely a tough battle, unfortunate the way it ended, but I’m really proud of Stefie and I not just this week, but over the past three weeks,” said Milutinovic.

Since their runners-up performance at the season-opening national tour event in November, Fejes and Milutinovic have won gold at the Pacific Games, taken out two national tour titles and have now added their second career Beach Pro Tour Futures crown in a near-perfect summer.

“We’ve been putting in so much effort and so much hard work with our coaches Josh [Slack] and Margo [Wiltens] – we really appreciate all the effort put into our team from back at home at QAS as well,” said Fejes.

In the playoff for third, Jasmine Fleming and Georgia Johnson (Australia) came out with an aggressive mindset which they carried throughout their 35-minute encounter, with the Australians downing USA’s Alaina Chacon and Mariah Whalen in straight sets.

It was the second bronze medal for Fleming and Johnson in the space of a week after they finished third at the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour in Mollymook last Sunday.

Today’s Beach Pro Tour finals bring a close to the 10-day Volleymook beach volleyball festival which also featured rounds of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour and Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Tour. VolleyMook was proudly supported by the NSW Government and Shoalhaven City Council.

The Beach Pro Tour continues next week with an Elite16 tournament in Doha, Qatar and a Futures event in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand before Coolangatta hosts the Beach Pro Tour in Coolangatta from 20-24 March.

Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour
Futures | Mollymook NSW
28 February-3 March 2024

MEN
Gold Medal Match

[1] Izac Carracher/Mark Nicolaidis (AUS) d [2] Paul Burnett/Jack Pearse 2:0 (21-18, 21-15) 

Bronze Medal Match

[10] Jordan Hoppe/James Shaw (USA) v [11] Banlue Nakprakhong/Wachirawit Muadpha (THA) 2:1 (21-17, 16-21, 15-10)

WOMEN
Gold Medal Match

[3] Stefie Fejes/Jana Milutinovic (AUS) v [7] Suzuka Hashimoto/Reika Murakami (JPN) 2:1 (21-18, 20-22, 15-2) 

Bronze Medal Match

[2] Georgia Johnson/Jasmine Fleming d [13] Alaina Chacon/Mariah Whalen (USA) 2:0 (21-12, 21-13)

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