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Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu advance in Oceania Continental Cup

Competing at the net is Tuvalu's Ampelosa Luka (left) against Damien Schumann of Australia
Tauranga, New Zealand, March 11, 2020 - Men's and women's teams from host New Zealand are now guaranteed berths in the final rounds of the Asian Volleyball Confederation's Continental Cup competition in late June after winning matches here on Wednesday on the Mount Maunganui courts along with men's teams from Australia and women's pairs from Vanuatu.

The New Zealand men will battle arch-rivals Australia on Thursday afternoon for the top Oceania berth in the AVC Continental Cup finales, while the Kiwi women will be challenged by Team Vanuatu in the women's final.

Posting men's wins for New Zealand over Fiji were Thomas Hartles/Alani Nicklin and Michael Watson/Sam O'Dea. Hartles and Nicklin defeated Wayne Fisher/Manasa Rogoivalu with Watson and O’Dea beating Filimoni Serevi/Vilimone Rokomurimuri.

Flanking Kiwi men's coach Rhys Van Stipriaan (centre) are players Michael Watson, Thomas Hartles, Alani Nicklin and Sam O'Dea

Leading the Australia men to victory Wednesday over Tuvalu were 2018 Commonwealth Games champions Christopher McHugh and Damien Schumann, who recently captured the gold medal at the 2020 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships in Thailand and an FIVB World Tour title in Cambodia.  

McHugh and Schumann defeated Saaga Malosa/Ampelosa Luka with Maximilian Guehrer and Zachery Schubert beating Lameko Loota/Ata Biira to clinch the Aussie win.

Australian players (left to right) Maximillan Guehrer, Damien Schumann, Christopher McHugh and Zachery Schubert with coaches Simon Naismith (second from left) and Andrew Schacht (second from right) with physio Britt Caling

Francesca Kirwan and Olivia MacDonald posted New Zealand's first win Wednesday over Fiji by defeating Gloria Taylor and Teupola Uluilakeba with Julia Tilley and Shaunna Polley's victory over Vunise Lua and Talica Rawaro sending the Kiwi's to the finals.

New Zealand women's players (left to right) are Julia Tilley, Francesca Kirwan, Olivia MacDonald and Shaunna Polley with coaches (left to right) Mike Dudson and Fiona Scrimshaw.

In Vanuatu's 2-0 win over the Solomon Islands, Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko defeated Rose Gwali and Hannah U'Una while Linline Matauatu and Loti Joe beat Glency Eddie and Anisha Fulairara.

Vanuatu coach Michel Barmann with players (left to right): Linline Matauatu, Sherysyn Toko, Miller Pata and Loti Joe.

The winning nations on Thursday will advance directly to the third and final rounds of the AVC Continental Cup along with two semifinal qualifiers. Countries already qualified for the final round in June after winning their zone title are China (Eastern men and women), Indonesia (Southeastern men), Iran (Central men), Kazakhstan (Central women), Oman (Western men), Thailand (Southeastern women). Qatar men and Australia women have also qualified for the finals due to winning the 2016 AVC Continental Cups.

Thursday's runner-ups will compete in the second round against the No. 2 finishers from the Central (Kazakhstan men and Sri Lanka women), Eastern (Japan men and women), Southeastern (Thailand men and Indonesia women) and Western (Lebanon men) zonal competitions.

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