Finals Set for Volleyball World Gold Coast Beach Pro Tour Futures
The finalists are locked in for the Volleyball World Gold Coast Beach Pro Tour Futures event, with the medallists to be decided on Sunday afternoon on Coolangatta Beach.
Among a red hot international field, four Aussies will be playing for medals after two female teams won their quarterfinal clashes to book their tickets to Super Sunday.
The first quarterfinal was an all Aussie showdown between fourth seeds Caitlin Bettenay and Tara Phillips and sixth seeds Jana Milutinovic and Stefanie Fejes.
With both teams training together in the Developing Beach Volleyroos Program based at the Queensland Academy of Sport, it was an incredibly close match with both teams’ intricate knowledge of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
After three tight sets, it was Milutinovic and Fejes who edged out in front to secure the 2:1 victory (21-17, 18-21, 15-12).
“It was a big battle, we train with them all the time so we know them pretty well,” Fejes said. “So it was a game of side-out and when it got to the pressure moments, just see who could get ahead.”
“I’m just over the moon, so excited and proud of our team,” Milutinovic added.
Number one seeds and recent 2023 Australian Champions Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming comfortably booked their ticket to the semis with a 2:0 (21-15, 21-18) win over Harumi Sakai and Miharu Kashihara (JPN).
While Australia’s Elizabeth Alchin and Kayla Mears, and Bettenay/Phillips haven’t advanced through to Sunday’s finals, Fejes emphasised how strong the women’s beach volleyball program is, to see four teams in the quarterfinals.
“It’s so amazing to see all the hard work we’ve put in paying off,” she said. “All four of our teams in the quarterfinals – that’s a benchmark for our program, so it’s amazing to see that and we go upwards and onwards from here.”
Heading into Sunday’s finals, Milutinovic and Fejes said they will leave no stone unturned when they play second seeds from Vanuatu, Majabelle Lawac and Sherysyn Toko.
“We will keep sticking to our game – we have a particular game style and as long as we play our hardest, we’ll leave everything on the court,” Milutinovic said.
Johnson and Fleming will play Canada’s Darby Dunn and Olivia Furlan in the semis, after the Canadians defeated Alchin/Mears 2:1 (19-21, 23-21, 15-8) on Saturday.
In the men’s competition, it will be an all-international final with Thailand’s Pithak Tipjan and Poravid Taovato knocking out the top Aussie seeds James Takken and Solomon Bushby in a nail-biting three set quarterfinal (20-22, 21-18, 15-12).
China’s Likejiang Ha and Jiaxin Wu defeated Australia’s second seeded team Lucas Josefsen and Ben Hood 2:0 (21-13, 21-17).
Joining them in Sunday’s semifinals will be USA’s Jordan Hoppe and Charles Siragusa, after a 2:0 victory over Brad Fuller and Alani Nicklin (NZL), and Germany’s Simon Kulzer and Bennet Poniewaz with a 2:1 win over Thomas Reid and John McManaway (NZL).
Germany’s Kulzer said he feels very grateful to be playing in Sunday’s semifinals.
“That was a very exhausting game, a very close one. The New Zealand guys have done so good serving, and make a lot of pressure on me receiving. But I’m feeling really proud and grateful to be competing in the semifinals,” Kulzer said.
“We love being here in Australia and playing in such a nice venue at beautiful Coolangatta.”
Sunday’s semifinals and medal matches will be streamed LIVE on the Beach Volleyball World YouTube
Gold Coast Beach Pro Tour Finals Schedule – Sunday 2 April, 2023 (all times AEST)
8am: Men’s Semifinal 1 – Hope/Siragusa (USA) v Ha Likejiang/Wu Jiaxin (CHN)
9am: Men’s semifinal 2 – Kulzer/Poinewaz (GER) v T.Pithak/T.Poravid (THA)
10am: Women’s Semifinal 1 – Milutinovic/Fejes (AUS) v Lawan/Toko (VAN)
11am: Women’s Semifinal 1 – Johnson/Fleming (AUS) v Dunn/Furlan (CAN)
12.30pm: Men’s bronze
1.30pm: Women’s bronze
2.30pm: Men’s gold
3.30pm: Women’s gold