FIVB Volleyball Empowerment beneficiaries from New Zealand also claim two medals at Samila Open in Thailand

  • Australia claims two gold medals a bronze at AVC Beach Tour event in Thailand
  • New Zealand picks up a silver and a bronze at Samila Open in Songkhla

 Teams from Australia and New Zealand, whose federations benefit from FIVB Volleyball Empowerment coach support for their national beach volleyball teams, collected five of the six medals at the Samila Open in Songkhla, Thailand, a stop on the continental AVC Beach Tour.

Australia’s Jasmine Fleming & Georgia Johnson and Paul Burnett & Jack Pearse topped the women’s and the men’s podiums, while Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic took bronze. New Zealand’s Alice Zeimann & Shaunna Polley finished women’s runners-up. Their compatriots Thomas Reid & John McManaway picked up the men’s bronze. The silver in the men’s tournament went to Iran’s Abbas Pourasgari & Alireza Aghajanighasab.

Volleyball Australia has so far been granted a total of CHF 180,000 worth of FIVB Volleyball Empowerment coach support for their national beach volleyball teams. Australian Olympian and 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship bronze medallist Joshua Slack is in charge of the women’s duos, while Joey Yigit is at the helm of the country’s men’s pairs. New Zealand’s beach volleyball has been allocated a total of CHF 252,000 of FIVB Volleyball Empowerment coach support, in addition to CHF 28,000 worth of beach volleyball equipment. Jason Lochhead has been coaching the country’s national teams since 2021.

Seeded second in the women’s main draw, Fleming & Johnson cruised to the top of the podium on a six-match winning streak. The only set they lost throughout the tournament came at the start of the final match (pictured in the main photo; credits: AVC) against Zeimann & Polley, after which the Australians achieved a 2-1 (13-21, 21-18, 15-13) victory. Before that, in the semifinals, Fleming & Johnson produced a 2-0 (21-16, 22-20) win over third-seeded Asami Shiba & Saki Maruyama of Japan. Fourth-seeded Zeimann & Polley delivered a 2-0 (21-17, 21-14) upset of top-seeded Fejes & Milutinovic, before the latter bounced back with a 2-0 (21-15, 21-16) sweep of the bronze medal match against the Japanese pair.

Australia’s Paul Burnett & Jack Pearse 

Burnett & Pearse won all seven of their matches on the way to the men’s god in Songkhla, but the strong competition pushed them to resort to tie-breaker victories in three of their games. In the final-four matches, however, the fifth-seeded Australians were impeccable to master a 2-0 (21-17, 21-15) sweep of their semifinal against Reid & McManaway and a 2-0 (21-17, 21-18) sweep of the final against 13th-seeded Pourasgasari & Aghajani. The Iranians had upset the top-seeded home favourites Pithak Tipjan & Poravid Taovato with a 2-1 (16-21, 21-19, 15-12) semifinal comeback. The sixth-seeded New Zealanders also mounted a comeback against the Thai duo in the third-place match and took the bronze after a 2-1 (18-21, 21-15, 15-9) victory.

Thailand Volleyball Association President Somporn Chaibangyang presided over the awards presentation on Tuesday.

A total of 29 men’s and 26 women’s teams, representing 17 different countries, took part in the strong Samila Open tournament in Songkhla. The next stop on the AVC Beach Tour will be in Tianjin, China from 11 to 14 July.

Samila Open: results and standings.


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