Stars of the future light up Thompson’s Beach
Some of the most talented young players in the country were on show over the last two days at the second round of the Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Tour in Cobram with some big names taking out gold medals.
Jed Walker, MVP of the Scape Australian Volleyball Super League Final last year, teamed with Luke Ryan to win the Men’s Under 21 tournament, while Commonwealth Youth Games silver medallist Cameron Zajer combined with fellow South Australian Leilani Burnell to win the Under 21 women’s event.
Dropping just one set on an undefeated journey through pool play, Walker and Ryan never dropped another on Tuesday on their way to beating Jett Rocker-Graham and Killian Donovan in the gold medal match.
Having moved to Adelaide to train full-time in a more professional environment, Walker reached the round of 12 of the Australian Beach Volleyball League over the weekend before taking top spot on the podium today.
“It was a change from the National Tour when I played with Solly [Solomon Bushby]” said Walker. “Very, new combination but it was awesome.
“We gelled pretty quickly, figured some stuff out and got better each game, I think.”
Coming up against the top seeds in the final, Walker said he and Ryan needed to battle hard against an outfit which had plenty of playing experience together.
“You could tell at the start we were figuring each other out,” he said. “They were in really good sync – they’re a really talented team.
“We battled hard to be down 20-18, but we managed to scrape a few points to get the first set and were able to take it 2-0.”
Having made the quarter-finals of the National Tour on Sunday, Zajer and Burnell were hot favourites in the women’s event and went through the tournament in near-perfect fashion, not dropping a set on the way to gold.
After sprinting through the second set of their semi-final when they conceded just four points, Zajer and Burnell were made to work harder in the gold medal match, eventually defeating third seeds Georgina Vanloo and Gemma McNamara 2:0 (21-14, 21-17)
In the Under 19 finals, South Australian second seeds Ben Adams and Cooper Strachan defeated Ethan Grocott and and Cooper Ryan in the battle for men’s gold, while top seeds Oriwia Noble and Remy Song beat Chloe Sumich and Caitlin Clarke in the women’s final, the 12th seeds enjoying a strong run of form to take silver.
2023/24 Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Tour
Round 2 | Thompson’s Beach, Cobram VIC
5-6 February 2024
Under 21 Women
Gold Medal Match: Leilani Burnell/Cameron Zajer d Georgina Vanloo/Gemma McNamara 2:0 (21-14, 21-17)
Bronze Medal Match: Shelby Peace/Lara Limbrick d Emma Hannagan/Lauren Brasell 2:1 (12-21, 21-19, 15-13)
Under 21 Men
Gold Medal Match: Jed Walker/Luke Ryan d Jett Rocker-Graham/Killian Donovan 2:0 (23-21, 21-15)
Bronze Medal Match: Finley Bennett/Adam Fejes d Felix Birke/Asher Gill 2:1 (23-25, 21-12, 15-11)
Under 19 Women
Gold Medal Match: Oriwia Noble/Remy Song d Chloe Sumich/Caitlin Clarke 2:0 (21-16, 21-13)
Bronze Medal Match: Lina Mueller//Lilyana Stanojevic d Charlotte Hansen/Rosie Alchin 2:0 (21-13, 23-21)
Under 19 Men
Gold Medal Match: Ben Adams/Cooper Strachan d Ethan Grocott/Cooper Ryan 2:0 (21-19, 21-15)
Bronze Medal Match: Tom Bergemann/Ryan Edgar d William Witheford/Maximilian Edvardsson (forfeit)