Port Vila, Vanuatu , December 12, 2017 – Formidable Loti Joe and Linline Matautu, who finished 19th at the last month’s World Tour in Sydney, Australia, got hosts Vanuatu off to a great start with win on the first day of the beach volleyball competition at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games on Monday.
The Games are being held in Port Vila, Vanuatu from December 3 to 15, with beach volleyball one of the 14 sports disciplines being contested in the 13-day event.
A total of 21 teams including 12 men’s pairings from 13 nations are pitted against one another in the 5-day beach volleyball competition. The participating teams included hosts Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna, Tonga and Guam.
In the men’s event on Monday, two matches turned out to be hard-fought three-set battles. Fiji’s Korowale/Elliot, fresh from winning the Oceania Commonwealth Games Beach Volleyball Qualifiers, struggled hard to beat Samoa’s Tui/Lesoa with a comeback 21-23 21-18 15-13 victory in gruelling 55 minutes, while Tuvalu’s Ata/Saaga lost to Moleana/Sekeme from Wallis and Futuna in close three sets 22-20 22-24 12-15 in 50 minutes.
However, the day’s highlight was in the clash between Vanuatu’s Maki/Mael and Tonga’s Tuakoi/Funaki which ended 21-18 21-16 in favour of the host side. The Korman Beach Stadium was filled to its capacity when a large crowd of home audiences turned out to support their home town boys. The crowd also included a number of Vanuatu’s beach volleyball loving executives including Prime Minister Chalot Salwai and the Ministers for Sport, Agriculture and Health.
In the women’s competition, local hopefuls Loti Joe and Linline Matautu thrashed Mampasse/Qazing from Wallis and Futuna 21-10 21-6 in 25 minutes. Vanuatu proved too strong on the court as the high-profile tandem came up with gritty performances and experience which received a big round of applauses from the spectators at the competition site.
Pool matches continue on Tuesday in the glorious sunny, hot and humid conditions.
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