Port Vila, Vanuatu, December 15, 2017 – Papua New Guinea’s Mea/Kilarupa and Vanuatu’s Loti Joe/Linline Matauatu stamped their domination over the 2017 Pacific Mini Games beach volleyball competition at the Korman Beach Stadium on Friday.
Mea/Kilarupa came from behind to beat Samoa’s Tui/Lesoa in a hard-fought three-set showdown 10-21 21-19 15-13 to capture the men’s title, while Joe/Matauatu proved too strong for Gali/U’Una to storm past the Solomon Islands’ rivals in a comfortable final clash 21-11 21-9 to clinch the women’s crown. Fiji swept both gold medals on offer in the men’s and women’s events.
In the men’s semi-final encounters earlier, Mea/Kilarupa struggled to beat Tonga’s Tuakoi/Funaki in exhausting three-setter 20-22 21-9 15-13, while Tui/Lesoa from Samoa overpowered Korowale/Elliot from Fiji with a magnificent come-from-behind 2-1 (13-21 21-16 15-8) victory. Korowale/Elliot last week made much of the impact after winning the Oceania Commonwealth Games Qualifiers to secure a berth for the next April’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.
The men’s bronze-medal match saw Fijians Korowale/Elliot in superb form to outclass Tonga’s Tuakoi/Funaki in straight sets 21-12 21-19. Fiji were just too composed, and despite a spirited comeback in the second set, Tonga were unable to find that little bit extra they needed to push the match to a third set.
In the gold-medal match, Tui/Lesoa could not maintain the intensity that secured them a place in the showdown. The Samoans took the opening set 21-10 with apparent ease. However, their fine form did not last long when power and finesse of Papua New Guinea’s Mea/Kilarupa proved too consistent at critical points in the second set, which they won 21-19. The Samoa’s pairing took an early lead in the thrilling third set, but Mea/Kilarupa successfully clawed their way back to win two critical points for the narrowly-contested 15-13 win in the set. Papua New Guinea eventually claimed the men’s gold medal at the 2017 Pacific Mini Games following their comeback 2-1 victory over Samoa.
Though not successful in the men’s event, home crowds still had something to cheer about in the women’s competition when hot favourites and top seeds Loti Joe/Linline Matauatu stormed their way to the final showdown, where they were due to take on Solomon Islands’ Gwali/U’Una.
In the women’s bronze-medal match earlier, Nima/Ratudina from Fiji, who stole the show by winning the last week’s Oceania Commonwealth Games Qualifiers, came up with a strong challenge to beat Bae/Walo from Papua New Guinea in straight sets 21-18 21-19. The match was a tightly-fought encounter as exemplified by the scores, with only a small number of errors making the difference between the two teams. Fiji claimed bronze medal.
The gold-medal match saw Vanuatu’s Loti Joe/Linline Matauatu remain invincible in the five-day competition with not losing a set to their respective rivals. In the Friday’s showdown, Joe and Linline performed brilliantly to defeat Gwali/U’Una 21-11 21-9. The local hopefuls played a cool, tactical game that had the capacity crowd on their feet cheering them on to victory.
FRIDAY’S FINAL RESULTS
Bronze-medal match: Nima/Ratudina (Fiji) b Bae/Walo (Papua New Guinea) 2-0 (21-18 21-19)
Gold-medal match: Joe/Matauatu (Vanuatu) b Gwali/U’Una (Solomon Islands) 2-0 (21-11 21-9)
Semi-finals: Mea/Kilarupa (Papua New Guinea) b Seles/Semesi (Tonga) 2-1 (20-22 21-9 15-13); Tui/Lesoa (Samoa) b Korowale/Elliot (Fiji) 2-1 (13-21 21-16 15-8)
Bronze-medal match: Korowale/Elliot (Fiji) b Tuakoi/Funaki (Tonga) 2-0 (21-12 21-19)
Gold-medal match: Mea/Kilarupa (Papua New Guinea) b Tui/Lesoa (Samoa) 2-1 (10-21 21-19 15-13)
Gwali/U’Una (Solomon Islands)
Bae/Walo (Papua New Guinea)
Mampasse/Qazing (New Caledonia) and Byrd/Sablan (Guam)\
7. Taakam/Batio (Kiribati) and Peter/Taimanuga (Tuvalu)
9. Tufele/Tiale (Wallis and Futuna)
Mea/Kilarupa (Papue New Guinea)
Nuopule/Waneasi (Solomon Islands) and Maki/Mael (Vanuatu)
7. Faireka/D.Heath (Cook Islands), Moleana/Sekeme (Wallis and Futuna) and Anro/Manuera (Kiribati)
10. Iwane/Angexetine (New Caledonia), Taro/Dwight (Palau) and Ata/Saaga (Tuvalu)
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