Port Vila, Vanuatu, December 14, 2017 – Vanuatu enjoyed mixed fortunes on Thursday with top seeds Loti Joe/Linline Matauatu storming into women’s final showdown and Maki/Mael going down in hard-fought three-set battle to Samoa in the men’s division on the penultimate day of the 2017 Pacific Mini Games beach volleyball competition at the Korman Beach Stadium.
It’s the wet season in Vanuatu and some matches were competed in heavy rains. However, the pool play section of both men’s and women’s competitions came to a close on Thursday. Despite heavy downpour, it failed to dampen the players’ enthusiasm to come up with their fine form.
In the men’s event, Papua New Guinea’s Mea/Kilarupa and Fijians Korowale/Elliot, who secured a berth for the next April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia following their victory at the last week’s Oceania Qualifiers, maintained their unbeaten run and earned their places in the semi-finals.
Tonga’s Selesi/Semesi brushed off Moleana/Sekeme from Wallis and Futuna 21-12 21-12 and repeated the similar feat over Solomon Islands’ Nuopule/Waneasi with a convincing 21-19 21-7 win later.
Samoa’s Tui/Lesoa also stunned local hopefuls Maki/Mael with a comeback 2-1 (16-21 21-19 16-14) victory in the rain-interrupted encounter. In their first match earlier, the Vanuatu’s tandem downed Tuvalu’s Ata/Saaga 21-17 21-19.
With crucial wins, both Tonga and Samoa joined Papua New Guinea and Fiji in the semi-finals.
In the Friday’s semi-finals, Papua New Guinea’s Mea/Kilarupa will take on Tonga’s Selesi/Semesi, while Samoa’s Tui/Lesoa, who went down 1-2 to Fijians Korowale/Elliot in their preliminary Pool B match on Monday, will play a revenge match against the same rivals.
The semi-finals will be followed up by the third-place playoff and the gold-medal match in the afternoon.
In the women’s division, Loti Joe/Linline Matauatu from Vanuatu remained invincible at the five-day competition. On Thursday, Joe/Matauatu outclassed Tuvalu’s Peter/Taimanuga with a one-sided 21-10 21-6 win in their last Pool A match, while Papua New Guinea’s Bae/Walo proved a cut above Nima/Ratudina to thrash the Fijians 21-19 21-13.
In the afternoon semi-finals, Solomon Islands’ Gwali/U’Una cruised past Bae/Walo 21-14 21-16 in 30 minutes, while Joe/Matauatu eliminated Nima/Ratudina 21-9 21-10.
In the women’s showdown on Friday, Gwali/U’na set up a revenge match against Vanuatu’s Joe/Matauatu, to whom they lost 0-2 in their preliminary Pool A encounter on Wednesday, while the third-place playoff earlier sees Bae/Walo from Papua New Guinea battle it out against Fijians Nima/Ratudina.
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