Carracher & Nicolaidis and Fejes & Milutinovic win gold at Mollymook Futures

Izac Carracher & Mark Nicolaidis in spectacular action (source: Volleyball Australia)

Izac Carracher & Mark Nicolaidis defeated Paul Burnett & Jack Pearse in an all-Australian men’s final at the first Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour of the year, the Mollymook Futures in Australia. Jordan Hoppe & James Shaw of the United States completed the podium with bronze. Australia claimed two medals in the women’s tournament too. Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic took the gold, while Georgia Johnson & Jasmine Fleming earned the bronze. The silver went to Japan’s Suzuka Hashimoto & Reika Murakami.

All-Australian clash in men’s final

Top-seeded Nicolaidis & Carracher lived up to their status and cruised through the tournament without losing a single set in five matches played. This way the Aussies, who won the historic first-ever Futures tournament in Coolangatta, Australia two years ago, have now added a second medal to their Beach Pro Tour record. It is gold again, and earned on home sand again.

Nicolaidis & Carracher’s victory run took them through a 2-0 (21-15, 21-18) semifinal win over 11th-seeded Banlue Nakprakhong & Wachirawit Muadpha of Thailand and peaked with a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) sweep of the gold medal showdown against their second-seeded compatriots Burnett & Pearse.

“We knew they were going to bring out a battle,” Carracher told after the final. “We know each other so well. We’ve played each other at least a hundred times already this year so we knew they were going to bring it and really happy to get the job done.”

The Mollymook silver was Burnett & Pearse’s second Beach Pro Tour medal as a pair. At their debut at the last Tour Futures stop of 2023 in Geelong, they topped the podium with gold. Burnett & Pearse lost to Hoppe & Shaw in the Pool B winners’ match and had to take the long route to the semifinals, where they had another encounter with the 10th-seeded Americans and got back at them with a 2-1 (17-21, 21-15, 15-13) turnaround.

At their first Beach Pro Tour appearance as a duo, Hoppe & Shaw claimed the bronze after a 2-1 (21-17, 15-21, 15-13) victory over Banlue & Wachirawit in the third-place game.

Aussie teen snatches second Beach Pro Tour gold

Third-seeded Fejes & Milutinovic reached the women’s semifinals on a perfect run of three straight-set victories. However, in an all-Australian duel for a spot in the final, they overcame the resistance of second-seeded compatriots Johnson & Fleming after a three-set battle, 2-1 (21-19, 15-21, 15-10). The gold medal match against seventh-seeded Suzuka & Reika also went to the three sets after 21-18 and 20-22 in the first two sets, but a Suzuka knee injury forced the Japanese team to withdraw during the tie-breaker and 19-year-old Fejes and 22-year-old Milutinovic claimed their second Beach Pro Tour medal, after the Coolangatta Futures gold in 2023.

“We’ve been putting in so much effort and so much hard work with our coaches. We really appreciate all the effort put into our team from back at home as well,” said the Australian teen.

“That was definitely a tough battle, unfortunate the way it ended, but I’m really proud of Stefie and me,” Milutinovic added.

To reach the final, Suzuka & Reika achieved four consecutive wins, three of which in three-set duels. In the semis, they mounted an impressive comeback from a set down against 13th-seeded Americans Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen to celebrate a 2-1 (15-21, 21-14, 15-9) victory and secure their first-ever Beach Pro Tour podium.

Fleming & Johnson hammered out a 2-0 (21-12, 21-13) shutout of Chacon & Whalen in the third-place match to complete the podium and improve their Beach Pro Tour medal collection to one gold, two silvers and two bronzes.

28 men’s teams and 24 women’s teams representing 12 different countries took part in the Mollymook Futures. The next Futures event will take place in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand from March 7 to 10.

Mollymook Futures: all results


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