Melissa Ruru/Danielle Quigley upset top seeds in National Beach Volleyball Tour
Auckland, New Zealand, January 29, 2014 - Round two of the New Zealand National Beach Volleyball Tour saw the underdogs in the women's draw upset the hometown top seeds in a very tight final at the Waikato Open, played at Lake Karapiro on the weekend.
After both finalists had comfortably made it through their section matches and semi-finals, the relatively new combination of Melissa Ruru (Rotorua) and Danielle Quigley (North Harbour) went out to an early lead against a strangely-hesitant Hamilton combination of Shaunna Polley and Julia Tilley. Although the hometown team fought back, some excellent float serving by Ruru, the NZ Police women's sportsperson of 2013, kept them in front throughout the set.
In an even tighter second set, Polley and Tilley showed determination, and a reduced error rate to eke out a 22-20 win on the back of two serve-receive errors by their opponents in the last two points.
The tie-breaker third set went almost point for point with the Hamilton duo looking to break free at 13-12, before Quigley and Ruru made a series of great defensive plays to set up their own attacks and win the final three points in a row, taking their first-ever Tour event title.
In an entertaining and hard-hitting men's final, top seeds Mike Watson and Sam O'Dea (Tauranga) put a loose first set loss behind them, to stay in front throughout the next two sets, and maintain their winning edge over the new combination of younger brother Ben O'Dea and North Harbour's Tom Hartles.
The hard-working Hartles has been one of New Zealand volleyball's big improvers over the last three years. With the extremely hard-hitting Ben O'Dea, and a reduced error-rate that should come through greater experience, the pair are highly likely to gain the top podium spot before long.
In this match, the experience of old-hand Watson, and the net domination of the tall Sam O'Dea was enough to gradually wear down the enthusiasm of the younger team and give them their second Tour title in a row.
Waikato Open, New Zealand Beach Volleyball Tour, Lake Karapiro, 25/26 January 2014
WOMEN: Melissa Ruru/Danielle Quigley defeated Julia Tilley/Shaunna Polley 2-1 (21-17, 20-22, 15-13)