Pacific Mini-Games looks ahead to volleyball finals
Wallis Island, Wallis and Fortuna, September 8, 2013 – The finals of the 2013 Pacific Mini Games Volleyball tournament are fast approaching after a whirlwind week of activity on the volleyball courts in the magnificent new Kafika stadium on the island of Wallis in the Pacific French Territory of Wallis and Futuna.
On day one, Tahiti, long-time Pacific Games women’s champions, lost their match to New Caledonia in a thrilling five setter 3-2 (19-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-23, 15- 8) after the New Caledonian defence counteracted the spiking power of the Tahitian women. Tahiti’s captain and former French international player Valeria Vaki, showed her strength at the net while the young Kahaialani Taliraa came off the bench to score valuable points for Tahiti. However, New Caledonia’s team coordination paid off well and open hitter Ramona Aritoehau produced a very strong game.
With Fiji’s women unbeaten after three matches against Wallis & Futuna, Papua New Guinea and Nauru, the next round promises to by an exciting one as they get set to meet New Caledonia.
In the men’s competition, Papua New Guinea have chalked up three wins and are looking strong to make the final after a good 3-1 win over Wallis and Futuna in front of a packed house of very vocal supporters for both teams. This match was a replay of the 2011 Pacific Games semi-final, which Wallis and Futuna won on their way to winning the gold medal. But in 2013, it was Papua New Guinea that came into its own, dominating the Wallis and Futuna attackers with their block. However, in the second Wallis and Fortuna came back strongly with their captain Vitali Tupou attacking with power and entertaining the crowd as he celebrated the point. The third set went point for point with Papua New Guinea coming back in to win the critical points and the set 26-24. Papua New Guinea came out strong in the fourth set and managed to build and maintain a comfortable lead taking the set 25-21 and the match.
The tournament is being played in a round robin format with all six men’s teams and all seven women’s teams playing each other in pool play with the top two ranked teams playing off for the gold medal and the third and fourth teams for the bronze. The women’s match on Monday will be played between Tahiti and Fiji while the men’s match on Monday will take place between New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea.