FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour

Vitoria Open 2016 | 15 - 20 mars 2016

#VitoriaOpen


Press release

Interest grows for Vanuatu pair Matauatu and Pata


Vanuatu's Miller Pata (green) hits the Mikasa towards Norway's Janne Kongshavn.

Vitória, Brazil, March 16, 2016 - Beach volleyball followers around the world are becoming more and more intrigued by the play of Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata of Vanuatu.

Matauatu (170 cm, 5’7”) and Pata (175 cm, 5’9’) are not a typical pair competing on the FIVB World Tour since there is not a true blocker on the team. Ball-handling and defense are the featured elements for the team that scored a win over German 2012 beach volleyball Olympians Katrin Holtwick and Ilka Semmler 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) in 31 minutes.

Quick links
•    Vitória Open website
•    Qualification - Men
•    Qualification - Women
•    Main draw - Men
•    Main draw - Women

The match was Matauatu and Pata’s first of three Pool A matches in the $150,000 Vitória Open as the Vanuatu pair took on 32nd-seeded qualifiers Janne Kongshavn and Vilde Solvoll of Norway in their second match Wednesday. Matauatu and Pata will conclude group action Thursday afternoon against Brazilian Olympians and top-seeded Talita Antunes and Larissa Franca.

“You have to be careful when playing the Vanuatu girls,” said Talita, who represented Brazil in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics and has already earned a spot in the Rio 2016 Summer Games with Larissa. “They are very steady and play consistently well.  Remember Long Beach last year, they won two straight matches against highly-regarded teams.”

At the August stop in southern California on the same day of elimination, Matauatu and Pata defeated Marta Menegatti/Viktoria Orsi Toth of Italy 2-1 (21-18, 11-21, 15-10) in 51 minutes and Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas of Brazil 2-1 (21-12, 19-21, 15-13) in 49 minutes before losing to Germans Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst 1-2 (23-21, 15-21, 15-17) in 55 minutes.


Linline Matauatu of Vanuatu battling with Italy's Viktoria Toth at the Long Beach Grand Slam in 2015

The three wins came over teams that are ranked among the provisional leaders for the Rio Games in August. Matauatu and Pata are currently listed 18th on the Rio 2016 provisional Olympic ranking list. Agatha and Barbara secured a spot in the Rio Summer Games by winning the gold medal at the 2015 FIVB World Championships in the Netherlands.  

Menegatti and Orsi Toth, who also lost again to Matauatu and Pata the week after Long Beach in Poland, are No. 4 on the provisional Olympic list with Ludwig and Walkenhorst the No. 1 team as no Brazilians are ranked due to already securing their two spots in Rio.  The top 15 teams from the FIVB World Tour qualify for the Olympics in August.

“That was a remarkable run in Long Beach,” Talita added. “It was a hot day on the beach and all three of those matches were three-setters. All the players were amazed and inspired by their play and how they handled the pressure. They are not a tall and physical team. But Linline and Pata are very steady.”

Yes the best beach volleyball players were inspired by the Vanuatu pair as the 27-year old Pata was named the most inspirational. The 24-year old Matauatu was honoured as the FIVB most improved player last season in the voting of participants on the 2015 World Tour.

Coached by Jason Lochhead from New Zealand, the Melanesian duo is also featured in a documentary film, "A Fighting Chance".  The documentary is directed by the Oscar and Grammy-winner Morgan Neville and also features marathon runner Tsepo Mathibelle from Lesotho and boxer Yenebier Guillen Benitez from the Dominican Republic.

Here are excerpts from a web article on www.radionz.co.nz:

“Aside from the vast financial challenges of competing on the FIVB World Tour, Matauatu and Pata both balance their sporting ambitions with raising children and last year had to deal with the effects of Cyclone Pam, which caused widespread devastation throughout Vanuatu.

The President of Vanuatu Volleyball, Debbie Masauvakalo, told RNZ International in 2015 that Matauatu lost her house in the cyclone while Pata's home also suffered significant damage. Despite this, the duo resumed training after only two weeks.

Debbie Masauvakalo said the documentary profiling their journey will screen at the South by South West Festival in Texas this week and next month's Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

"We're very excited that our story could be told to the world and can inspire others from other developing countries or other people that are in the same situations as us, where they don't have the resources, they don't have the support that other developing countries have from their governments. We struggle ourselves so we want to tell our story and we want to get other - especially women - to know that if they have a dream they can achieve it and through all the struggles that we've been through we hope that we can inspire more."

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