The opening tournament of Geelong Beach Volleyfest 2023 has seen the winners crowned at the opening round of the 2023/24 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour.
The women’s tournament saw top seeds Georgia Johnson (QLD) and Jasmine Fleming (QLD) win their third straight Tour title as team, while Martin Kaufer (VIC) and Ky Landers (WA) broke through for their first-ever men’s title in just their fifth tournament together.
The women’s draw stayed true to the seedings with the two top-ranked teams dropping just one of 17 sets between them en route to the gold medal match.
The final started on an even footing before Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming were able to edge away from second seeds Jana Milutinovic (SA) and Stefie Fejes (NSW) midway through the first set to take the early advantage 21-14.
The second set was a more one-sided affair, with Fleming’s serving a feature as they gapped the opposition to record a comprehensive 21-10 result to seal the match.
Fleming said that with the wind coming into play this week, a recent training focus on their service game bore fruit today.
“At Sandstorm we get a bit of swirly wind but not a consistent breeze so it’s nice just to be able to use it to our advantage, rip some ‘toppies’, really just hit the ball hard into the wind,” she said.
Johnson said that following today’s victory, the goal turns immediately to the Beach Pro Tour in Geelong next week where they are once again hoping to take all before them.
“[The goal is] definitely to get on top of the podium again, then we head to another Challenge event in the Philippines the week after that so just trying to pick up as many experiences as we can.”
In the bronze medal match, Caitlin Bettenay (QLD) and Phoebe Bell (QLD) were were too strong for third seeds Kayla Mears (QLD) and Tara Phillips (SA), winning 2:0 (21-11, 21-17). In further evidence they were worthy of their third place finish, the seventh seeds’ only pair of losses during the tournament were to the gold and silver medallists.
The men’s final was always destined to crown a new Tour winner with both duos playing their first gold medal match together.
Martin Kaufer and Ky Landers got the edge over Ben Hood (QLD) and D’Artagnan Potts (SA) on day one, however the number three seeds had improved their form throughout the tournament.
The opening two sets drew a remarkable resemblance to their first encounter, with the Kaufer and Landers taking the first set only for Hood and Potts to square the match up in the second.
The momentum swing at the start of the decider was extreme, with Kaufer and Landers streaking to a 6-0 lead, but given the windy conditions, there was still hope for their younger opponents.
However the experienced campaigners were able to extend their lead, take a commanding advantage and score their first ever Tour title 2:1 (21-16, 15-21, 15-5).
“My goal was for the first time to get to Super Sunday,” said Kaufer, commenting that while he dreams big he never thought realistically about claiming the title. “Being up here is absolutely amazing.”
Landers said that while he felt the pressure going into the match, he was able to use it to his team’s advantage.
“I always say nervous energy is good energy,” he said. “The boys put up a really good game.
“I feed off the crowd, it was a really good game – it was great.”
The bronze medal match was a tight affair throughout with both sets going the distance before Josh Howat (WA) and Harley Sinclair (NSW) overcame Patrick Tang (VIC) and Geelong local Jack Gregory (VIC) 2:0 (22-20, 22-20).
Geelong Beach Volleyfest continues from Wednesday when the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour kicks off with the qualifying round, with play running through until the medal matches next Sunday.
2023/24 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour
Geelong VIC | 17-19 November 2023
Gold Medal Match: Georgia Johnson (QLD)/Jasmine Fleming (QLD) d Jana Milutinovic (SA)/Stefie Fejes (NSW) 2:0 (21-14, 21-10)
Bronze Medal Match: Phoebe Bell (QLD)/Caitlin Bettenay (QLD) d Kayla Mears (QLD)/Tara Phillips (SA) 2:0 (21-11, 21-17)
Gold Medal Match: Ky Landers (WA)/Martin Kaufer (VIC) d D’Artagnan Potts (SA)/Ben Hood (QLD) 2:1 (21-16, 15-21, 15-5)
Bronze Medal Match: Josh Howat (WA)/Harley Sinclair (NSW) d Jack Gregory (VIC)/Patrick Tang (VIC) 2:0 (22-20, 22-20)
WOMEN CHALLENGER DIVISION 1
Gold Medal Match: Marta Slawuta/Julie Burns d Clara Cecilie Lassen/Imogen Rowe 2:0 (21-11, 21-17)
Bronze Medal Match: Maud Piovesan/Lisa Meyer d Megan Capriccio/Marielle Bouwman 2:1 (17-21, 21-14, 15-8)
MEN CHALLENGER DIVISION 1
Gold Medal Match: Luke Ryan/Thomas Smith v Shaun Andersen/Oliver Merritt 2:0 (21-18, 21-17)
Bronze Medal Match: Rory Hart/Millon Jones d Mitch Croft/Xander van Driel 2:1 (15-21, 21-13, 15-7)
MEN CHALLENGER DIVISION 2
Gold Medal Match: Daniel Kuklych/Shaun Davis d Jonathan Hague/Oliver Oaten 2:0 (22-20, 21-19)
Bronze Medal Match: Lucas Fletcher/Zach Addison d David Hammersley/Darcy Reading 2:1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-13)