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Australia dominate Samoa while hosts have mixed fortunes at Oceania Zonal tournament

Sam O'Dea from New Zealand gets high up to line up a hit over the Fijian block
   Mt. Maunganui, New Zealand, February 17, 2012 – Australia whitewashed Samoa 4-0 in the semifinals for both men and women while hosts New Zealand enjoyed mixed fortunes, with the men’s team beating Fiji 4-0 and their women’s side losing to Vanuatu in straight matches on the second day of the AVC Beach Volleyball Continental Cup Oceania Zonal Tournament on Friday.

Following these results, the Australian and New Zealand men’s teams and the Australian and Vanuatu women’s teams will now move on to the finals of the AVC Continental Cup slated for June, while the losing teams in the semifinals will battle for the third ticket to the final round, with the winner qualifying directly for the London Olympic Games.

In the women’s competition, the Aussies flexed their muscles quickly, subduing their Samoan opponents, who had seen off the challenge of Fiji in five matches the previous day. Top pair Becchara Palmer/Louise Bawden started the day well with a 21-7, 21-7 win over Samoan duo Gasolo Sanele Pio/ Samalaulu Faavaega in the morning. Australia’s Natalie Cook, gold medallist at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, partnered Tamsin Hinchley and took only 20 minutes to trounce Samoa’s first duo of Vaituutuu Taua/ Leute Mataipule 21-5, 21-2, paving the way for the last two wins in the afternoon.

Hosts New Zealand challenged a fired-up Vanuatu in the semis with Micah Lindsay-Brown/ Julia Tilley losing the first match 21-19, 11-21, 10-15 in 44 minutes to Vanuatu’s top pair of Miller Elwin/Henriette Iatika. Conceding a match, top Kiwi duo Melissa Ruru/ Lydia McCormack aimed to make amends in their second encounter against tough rivals Joyce Joshua and Linline Matauatu, but they proved too much for the hapless Kiwis, crushing the hosts in straight sets (22-20, 21-14) in 40 minutes to help the visiting team lead New Zealand  2-0.

In the afternoon’s two matches, the Vanuatu players demonstrated their continued improvement gained on the World Tour. The relatively inexperienced Kiwis acquitted themselves well in their first tournament on home soil at this level, but were a bit nervous in front of their home crowd. Samoa’s Miller Elwin/Henriette Iatika and Joyce Joshua/ Linline Matauatu continued their remarkable run by taming their rivals Ruru/ McCormack 21-12, 21-12 and Lindsay-Brown/ Julia Tilley 21-9, 21-16, respectively, to give Vanuatu a convincing 4-0 win.

In the men’s section, Australia and New Zealand recorded 4-0 wins over Samoa and Fiji, respectively. The Kiwis had to fight hard to subdue the South Pacific Games Champions. New Zealand fielded a relatively inexperienced set of combinations, having split the long-term partnership of Kirk Pitman/Jason Lockhead by pairing them with the young O’Dea brothers. However, New Zealand 1’s – Kirk Pitman/Ben O'Dea – kept their good form to annihilate Fiji 2’s (Inia Koroiwale/ Sakiusa Vaka Naivana) in straight sets (21-12, 21-19) and put the hosts 1-0 ahead. Jason Lochhead/ Sam O’Dea, with better teamwork, followed with a 21-17, 21-14 victory over Samoa’s top pair of Waisele Suka/Aisake Raratabu.

With two wins in their pockets, the Kiwis played with more confidence, while their rivals seemed to be under pressure.  The New Zealand Teams completed their domination of the match by convincingly seeing off the challenge of Fiji. 

Australia entered the finals of the Zonal Tournament after seeing off their rivals 4-0. The Aussies underlined their supremacy at the three-day tournament and again proved too strong for Samoa in the battle for the top spot. The first team for Australia – Christopher McHugh/ Joshua Slack – beat Samoa 2’s Oliva Mago/ Sapati Aiono 21-4, 21-4, and followed it up with a comfortable 21-5, 21-14 victory over Samoa 1’s (Afa Lauvai/Toetu Toetu) in 28 minutes. Sam Boehm/ Isaac Kapa also scored two victories with ease. 

In the playoff match, Pierrick Lesines/ Rio Lesines of Vanuatu beat Ravu Mahuru/ Gereana Kila 15-12 in a golden set to help Vanuatu place fifth in the tournament.

The top three winners will next play in the AVC Continental Cup Asian Zone, where only the eventual winners will qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in London. However, teams finishing second and third places in the men’s and women’s events in the Asian Zone will play in the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Cup Olympic Qualification Tournament, which will see the top two teams join the fray in London.


Australia 4, Samoa 0
AUS 1 vs. SAM 2  2-0 (21-7, 21-7)
AUS 2 vs. SAM 1  2-0 (21-5, 21-2)
AUS 1 vs. SAM 1  2-0 (21-8, 21-4)
AUS 2 vs. SAM 2  2-0 (21-5 21-8)

New Zealand 0, Vanuatu 4
NZL 2 vs. VAN 1 0-2 (21-19, 11-21, 10-15)
NZL 1 vs. VAN 2 0-2 (20-22, 14-21)
NZL 1 vs. VAN 1 0-2 (12-21, 12-21)
NZL 2 vs. VAN 2 0-2 (9-21, 16-21)

Australia 4,  Samoa 0
AUS 1 vs. SAM 2  2-0 (21-4, 21-4)
AUS 2 vs. SAM 1  2-0 (21-11, 21-6)
AUS 1 vs. SAM 1  2-0 (21-5, 21-14) 
AUS 2 vs. SAM 2  2-0 (21-9, 21-10)

New Zealand 4, Fiji 0
NZL 1 vs. FJI  2-0 (21-12, 21-19)
NZL 2 vs. FJI 1 2-0 (21-17, 21-14)
NZL 1 vs. FJI 1 2-0  (21-12, 21-12)
NZL 2 vs. FJI 2 2-0 (21-8, 21-17)

Vanuatu 3, Papua New Guinea 2
VAN 1 vs. PNG 2 2-0 (24-22, 21-17)
VAN 2 vs. PNG 1 1-2 (21-14, 16-21, 5-15)
VAN 1 vs. PNG 1 2-0 (21-18, 21-12)
VAN 2 vs. PNG 2 0-2 (12-21, 0-21)
VAN 1 vs. PNG 2 15-12

Day three Schedule:
Finals :
Women: Australia vs. Vanuatu, Men: Australia vs. New Zealand
Playoff for third: 
Women: New Zealand vs. Samoa, men: Fiji vs. Samoa


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