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Vanuatu defend Oceania beach volleyball title

Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko, with coach Michel Bergmann
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 29, 2018 – Vanuatu defended their Oceania women's beach volleyball title, denying Tahiti a clean sweep of the podiums in Papeete, Tahiti.

Top seeds Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko defeated Tahitian's Emere Maau-Boutry and Vaihere Fareura 2-0 (21-17, 21-17) in the final, having also beaten the hosts’ top pair in the pool stages.

The medal winners at the Oceania beach volleyball event in Tahiti

The President of Vanuatu Volleyball, Debbie Masauvakalo, said the result maintained their winning run in Oceania and was also a chance to give junior player Sherysyn Toko (Tini) some experience.

"This is our third Oceania title in a row. We won in 2015 in the Cook Islands with Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu," she said. "There was no event in 2016, because it was an Olympic year. Then we won the event in Fiji last year with Linline Matauatu and Loti Joe, and now Miller and Tini won this event in Tahiti. Miller played with a junior (Tini is only 21), and it's the first time the junior has won an international medal, so we are very excited."

Vanuatu's victory caps off a memorable year, eight months after Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.

"Miller had a baby at seven months of age and we had to get her fit and game-ready, so we made it to the Commonwealth Games," Masauvakalo said. "Then they made it all the way to the semifinals, beating England in the quarterfinal, and then we lost a close match in the semifinal against Australia - a three-setter - and then we beat Cyprus in the bronze medal match and won the bronze medal - the first team event medal ever for Vanuatu at the Commonwealth Games.”

"The rest of the year we basically just trained and we're lucky that we've got support from the FIVB, who have funded a coach for us so now we have a German coach, Michel Bergmann, which is really great because we have never had an international coach based in Vanuatu to train the girls consistently," she added. "He arrived in September for three months and now he's back home in Germany for Christmas. Michel will return to Vanuatu in January 2019 with a new contract to coach the Vanuatu girls on the FIVB World Tour and the Olympic qualification events."

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