Kiwis win Men’s Elite Australian Championships at Volleyslam 2022
New Zealand’s number one men’s team Sam O’dea and Bradley Fuller have won gold at the 2022 Australian Beach Volleyball Championships on the Gold Coast.
Coming in as an unseeded international team, O’dea and Fuller had to play eight games of volleyball over three days, starting in Friday’s Qualification Tournament, to earn their spot in the gold medal final against Aussie top seeds Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher.
In a thrilling three-set battle, they won the gold over the national Tour Leaders 2:1 (21-17, 13-21, 15-12).
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist O’dea, said today’s victory was a great accomplishment for his new team.
“We had a long tournament all the way through the qualifiers to get here, but it was awesome,” he said.
“It was Brad’s first full international tournament and he played incredibly well so we’re stoked.
“It is the Australian Championships, so we feel like we ruined their party a little bit but it’s awesome that we could be part of it.”
The 31-year-old said Nicolaidis and Carracher put up a tough fight, and he’s looking forward to more battles in the future.
“We love competing and those guys can compete, they’re a great team, both young guys too,” he said.
“I’ve been around for a little while now so it’s cool to see new guys popping up and they definitely play really well and I think they have a bright future ahead of them.
“I am happy to get the win over them today and hope to continue doing so, but I know it’s going to get harder and harder.”
In the bronze medal match, Justin Schumann and Garang Anyang broke through for their first podium on the national tour.
After defeating second seeds Max Guehrer and Tom Hodges in the quarterfinal 2:1 (21-16, 18-21, 15-11) to advance to their first ABVT semifinal, they were defeated by the eventual gold-medal winning Kiwi duo in two sets.
However Schumann and Anyang bounced back and held their nerve to win the bronze over Sam Halley and Mateusz Zieba 2:0 (21-17, 21-16).
After three years playing together on the national tour, 27-year-old Garang said it felt like the pair have had a break-though this season.
“We never felt like we were getting the results we needed on the national tour,” Garang said
“In state events, Justin medalled in South Australia, winning gold, and we won the Victoria Open, but on the national tour we hadn’t got the results.
“We started 9th in Cobram, 5th in Mollymook, and now to get a bronze is a great way to finish the season.”
“It’s pretty special, we’ve been playing on this tour for a fair few years now, we watch every Sunday and we’re never in it, so we’re over the moon to get a medal,” Schumann added.
Schumann said their recent success has been a result of competing in more high pressure situations.
“I remember we were speaking with our coach about it after a few recent tough losses and he was saying the more we can put ourselves in these situations, the deeper we can go in tournaments and the more pressure situations we’re in, the more we’ll come out on top and that’s sort of shown this tournament,” the 25-year-old said.
“We won a 3-setter last night [against Hodges and Guehrer] and we’ve never beaten that team before which was huge for us, and then we managed to hold our nerve in this final so super stoked with that.”
Teams will now turn their attention to the Volleyball World Pro Beach Tour Gold Coast Futures starting on Wednesday. O’dea/Fuller and Nicolaidis/Carracher have already secured their start in the main draw on Thursday, while Schumann and Anyang will contest the Qualification Tournament on Wednesday.
See all Australian Championship results HERE