Stage Set for Australian Championships Super Sunday
After a number of tantalising quarterfinal clashes on Coolangatta Beach, the top four men’s and women’s teams have been decided for the Australian Championships ‘Super Sunday’ Finals at Volleyslam 2023.
The quarterfinal crowd favourite went to Gold Coast local Rob Reeves and Matt Abela (VIC) against Wollongong ABVT champions and second seeds Bryce Poland (QLD) and Chris Blake (QLD).
Eighth seeds Reeves and Abela came into the match after going down to the number one seeds Ben Hood (QLD) and Lucas Josefsen (QLD) 2:0 (11-21, 9-21) in the first match of the day, before bouncing back in the Round of 12.
With a new found energy, the duo defeated the defending champions 2:0 (21-17, 26-24).
Reeves said the support of his vocal Coolangatta mates helped bring the team home, to qualify for Sunday’s semis.
“Every point was a show, something happened – a big block or a big swing – nothing was taken for granted, neither team gave away anything, it was brutal, I loved it,” Reeves said.
“This is Coolangatta, this is me, to have the crew here supporting us is unreal.”
Abela said he was stoked that the team were able to turn around their disappointing start to the day to bring their A-game when it counted.
“We had a shaky opening game to start with but we came back in the Round of 12 and just played ourselves and I was really happy with how we just turned it around,” Abela said.
“It’s our first tournament together… and in our first game this morning, we were just under the pump and both making mistakes that we shouldn’t be. So we had a chat afterwards, figured out what each other needed when we’re under pressure and we absolutely nailed that final game.
“It’s so much fun playing behind Rob, he brings so much energy and we knew Chris and Bryce would bring a lot but at the end of the day it was a lot of fun and such high quality volleyball from both teams.”
Abela and Reeves will play Canberra ABVT champions Mateusz Zieba (POL) and Daniele Acconci (ITA) in the semi finals at 9am AEST. Top seeds Hood / Josefsen will face fourth seeds from Victoria Garang Anyang / Justin Schumann also at 9am AEST to determine which colour medal they’ll be fighting for.
In the women’s tournament, eighth seeds Rebecca Ingram (QLD) and Stef Weiler (VIC) have broken their quarterfinal jinx to advance through to their first Super Sunday of the season.
Facing third seeds Caitlin Bettenay (QLD) and Tara Phillips (SA) in the quarterfinal, they overcame them in two sets (21-16, 21-17) with a number of monster blocks from Weiler on the net.
Weiler said it was really exciting to see their hard work paying off to advance into the semifinals at the Australian Championships.
“We’ve played a few rounds this summer and we’ve lost the quarters each time so it was really nice to break through to that Super Sunday, it’s a really nice feeling as we’ve been working really hard,” she said.
With Weiler based in South Australia and Ingram in Queensland, the pair’s ability to build on their connection on the sand this weekend has been the secret to their success.
“I think because Bec and I live in different states, it’s a matter of just connecting with each other and finding the game that works and I think with the results today it was clear we’ve been able to do that,” Weiler said.
“It’s important to execute your skills individually but it’s about finding a way to bring that together so it works well together – you can’t just have two good individual players, you have to be a good team.”
Ingram says the team will focus on their strengths heading into tomorrow’s finals.
“We’ll keep the strong aggressive serves, Steph will keep blocking like a powerhouse and we’ll keep finding our connection together, that’s what we’ve been focusing on.”
Ingram / Weiler will face fourth seeds Stefanie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic in the semi final 1 on Sunday at 8am AEST.
Top seeds Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming fought through a three-set quarterfinal clash against Tour Leaders Sarah Richter and Lucia Michalovicova to advance to the second semifinal, where they’ll face second seeds Nikki Laird and Britt Kendall at 8am AEST.