Strong Australian representation in Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Finals
The quarter-finals of the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour have wrapped up with three Australian teams having advanced to Sunday’s finals, alongside five international teams.
The first men’s semi-final will be an all-Aussie clash with the #4 seeds Tom Hogdes and Max Guehrer taking on #8 seeds Mark Nicolaidis and Izac Carracher, guaranteeing an Australian team in the gold-medal match.
Australian Championship silver medallists Carracher and Nicolaidis faced Ben O’dea and Thomas Reid in their quarter-final clash, determined to get one over the Kiwis after they were defeated by Ben’s brother Sam and his partner Brad Fuller in the final of the Australian Championships last weekend.
An epic three-setter assured with a dominant defensive game by Carracher the winning ticket to victory (13-21, 21-17, 18-16).
“We knew we were coming up against a really tough team,” Carracher said. “We had an absolute battle against Ben’s brother last weekend in the finals of the ABVT Champs, so knowing they played quite a similar game style, and they’re very physical guys, we really had to bring it and it’s great to get the job done.”
Sunday’s first semi-final will feel very familiar for both teams, as the training partners and regular Australian National Tour competitors face up at 7.30am.
“We play against them almost every day but it doesn’t mean we’re going to take it easy on them,” Hodges said.
“It’s going to be an absolute grudge match and I know they’ll be out there with the exact same attitude. I’m really excited, it should be a really really good game.”
Hodges recognised the other Australian teams who have advanced through the competition, many of them competing at their first World Tour event.
“I’ve been really proud of what all the Aussies have been able to achieve this weekend. We’ve had quite a few teams knock off some internationals in the qualifier and make it through to the Main Draw and get some nice wins there, so it’s been really cool to watch it and see everyone putting their best volleyball out there on the court.”
The second semi-final will be between Canada’s Jake MacNeil and Alex Russel, and Jakub Zdybek and Pawel Lewandowski of Poland at 8.20am
The Canadians defeated the recent Australian Champs, Kiwis O’dea and Fuller, in the quarterfinals to book their ticket to Sunday’s finals 2-0 (21-16, 22-20).
“We’re super happy. It’s our first event together as a team on the World Tour and we’ve been really good friends for a while and I think in the hard moments that helps us a lot,” MacNeil said.
For Russell, he said being able to play here on the Gold Coast, and making it through to the semifinals, feels like “redemption” after being in Queensland for the World Tour event in 2020 that was canceled on the eve of play due to the start of the COVID Pandemic.
“Being back here and finally getting that redemption and being able to play after two years of craziness feels really good, and like I’ve come full circle.”
In the women’s event, top seeds Phoebe Bell and Nikki Laird will represent the green and gold in tomorrow’s semi-finals.
After defeating #2 seeds Alice Zeimann and Shaunne Polley from New Zealand in the quarter finals 2:1 (21-19, 16-21, 15-13) they will face USA’s Toni Rodriguez and Susannah Muno at 10.10am.
Off the back of another close three-set battle, Laird said it’s the team’s ability to convert when it counts what has seen them advance to another Sunday.
“I think what we’ve shown is the ability to win, and winning-ness is, in my opinion, the most important aspect of an elite athlete,” the Rio 2016 Olympian said.
“You know it can look ugly or it can look pretty, but if you don’t know how to win in the back end of games, in the back end of tight sets, then there’s no point in being here.
“I think Phoebe and I have that skill and that strength and I’m really enjoying that aspect of our team.”
The second semifinal will see #16 seeds Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss of USA face off with #7 seeds Suzuka Hashimoto and Reika Murakami of Japan at 9.20am.
See all results HERE
Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Gold Coast Futures Schedule – Sunday 3 April
7.30am: Men’s Semi-Final 1 – Carracher/Nicolaidis (AUS) v Hodges/Guehrer (AUS) Watch live HERE
8.20am: Men’s Semi-Final 2 – MacNeil/Russell (CAN) v Zdybek/Lewandowski (POL) Watch live HERE
9.20am: Women’s Semi-Final 1 – Kloth/Nuss (USA) v Hashimoto/Reika (JPN) Watch live HERE
10.10.am: Women’s Semi-Final 2 – Rodriguez/Muno (USA) v Laird/Bell (AUS) Watch live HERE
11.45am: Men’s bronze medal match – stream live on SBS on Demand
12.45pm: Women’s bronze medal match – stream live on SBS on Demand
2.00pm: Men’s gold medal match – stream live on SBS Australia
3.00pm: Women’s gold medal match – stream live on SBS Australia