It was Vanuatu and Australia who ended the week celebrating
after topping the podium in the women’s and men’s competitions
respectively. In the case of Vanuatu’s Henriette Iatika and Joyce
Joshua, they had arrived in the Windward Islands buoyed by their
silver-medal success at the AVC Beach Volleyball Championships
in Haikou, China, and they began with an impressive statement
of intent, beating Tahiti’s No1 side 25-23, 26-24 in the final game
of the opening day at Paofai Gardens.
Vanuatu subsequently came from a set down to beat the same
opponents in the semifinals – a repeat outcome of their meeting
at the same stage of the 2011 Pacific Games – and they then
overcame Australia in the final. In the process they avenged
their defeat by Australia in the 2010 Oceania finals – evidence,
according to captain Iatika, that they are “a different team now –
more experienced and more focused”.
Their efforts earlier in 2012 certainly backed up that statement:
voted the Pacific’s Outstanding Team of the Year at the 4th
annual Pacific Sports Awards, Iatika and Joshua took gold at the
Seoul Women’s Challenger and finished ninth at the Bangsaen
Thailand Open.
While Australia’s women had to settle for silver, their men’s team
of Sam Boehm and Russell Moore had no such problems, surviving
the week undefeated as they claimed gold. After a straight-sets
semifinal success (26-24, 21-18) against Tahiti’s No1 men’s pairing,
they came up against New Zealand’s Darryl Lewis and James
Gilling in the final on December 5, prevailing 21-18, 22-20. There
was some consolation for the enthusiastic home crowd at least
in the shape of bronze medals for both the men’s and women’s
Tahiti No.1 teams.
Russell Moore launches himself during the final against New Zealand