Fleming and Johnson claim maiden ABVT crown
Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming entered the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour event in Canberra as top seeds, but without a tour title to their names.
That has all changed now with the Queensland combination coming back from a set down in the quarter-final, semi-final and final to claim the gold medal.
After comfortable Saturday victories to top their pool, Johnson and Fleming were up against Cassie Dodd – who won the U21 title on Friday – and Kyla Sanchez in the last eight. The West Australians claimed the opening set 21-15 and challenged the top seeds in the second (21-18) before Johnson and Fleming outlasted their opponents, claiming the tiebreaker 15-6.
Fifth-seeds Lucia Michalovicova and Sarah Richter entered the semis having not dropped a set throughout the tournament.
The NSW pairing won their seventh straight set 21-17 to take an early lead before the Queenslanders claimed the second set by the same score.
Like their quarter-final, Fleming and Johnson were able to build a big lead in the tiebreaker, winning 15-7 to move into the final.
Awaiting them in the decider were second seeds Caitlin Bettenay and Britt Kendall, with the training partners set to do battle for the Canberra crown.
Bettenay and Kendall got on top early to win the first set 21-15, before Fleming and Johnson forced a tiebreaker with a 21-13 second set victory.
Unlike their quarter and semi, this third set would be a much closer affair, however in the end Fleming and Johnson justified their top seeding to win the tiebreaker (16-14), and the tournament.
“Neither of us have ever won a national tour event, so it’s our first gold medal,” said Johnson “We’re stoked that the hard work we’ve been putting in has paid off.”
Fleming said that lining up against familiar foes in the final presented a challenge they needed to fight hard to overcome.
“It was definitely tough playing against Caitlin and Britt who we train with every day up in Brissie,” said Fleming. “We both know each other so well as teams and as individuals, so we knew that we had to pull out all stops.”
In the bronze medal match, Michalovicova and Richter beat fourth seeds Tara Phillips and Kayla Reid 21-15, 21-15.
The next leg of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour takes place at Wollongong in March.