Miller Elwin and Henriette Iatika,
Vanuatu’s Miller Elwin and Henriette Iatika were certainly no shrinking
violets at their first FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships.
The pair had a long route to arrive in Stare Jablonki that took in
Brisbane, Dubai and Frankfurt before they arrived in Poland, but once
there they made themselves fully at home.
In the pool stages they won one and lost two matches, but still finished
in second place in their pool.
Next up was the first elimination round and an appointment with the
Czech Republic’s Olympians Kristyna Kolocova and Marketa Slukova. It
made no difference; they played as if to the manner born and won 2-0.
In the end it was number one seeds and eventual winners Chen
Xue and Zhang Xi who ended their run, though not after they had
threatened the upset of all upsets when they had set point in
the first set.
While the loss signalled their long return to their island home in the
south Pacific, they are likely to be smiling all the way there.
I have been training hard for the last few years and we have improved
so much along the way.” “We are proud of how we played against the
Chinese, they are ranked number one and we are seeded 37th,” Iatika
said. “Our friends and family back home are extremely proud of us; we
have received plenty of messages of support.”
Sarah Pavan and Heather
Sarah Pavan was another player at the World Championships who
was making the switch from volleyball to beach volleyball and she
and partner Heather Bansley certainly made a few teams sit up and
take notice with their performances.
The Canadian duo went through pool play with two wins and one
defeat and while they were knocked out by Austria’s Barbara Hansel
and Katharina Schutzenhofer, they showed that with more game time
they will be a partnership to be feared.
It was not difficult to see why Pavan was such a difficult opponent.
At 196cm the 26-year-old towered over opponents at the net, while
year-old Bansley swept up any danger behind.
Pavan will be returning to her successful volleyball career later in
the year though. She has been a four time All-American at the
University of Nebraska and won the 2006 NCAA title before playing
professionally in Italy and Brazil.
So while their partnership is going to be put on hold, it won’t be the last
we see of them as the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games draws ever closer.
We are going to continue playing until the end of August, beginning
of September and then Sarah is going back to play indoor another
season,” Barnsley explained. “The plan right now is to continue playing
next summer on the beach with Sarah and then we will kind of adjust
accordingly going into Olympic qualifying.”