WA’s best proved too much for the interstate challengers as Shelby Maher, Melissa Kennedy, Greg Hunt and Maksim Bacovic claimed the Alcohol. Think Again WA Open titles in Scarborough.
In the women’s competition, Maher and Kennedy were never to be dismissed even after entering the weekend as the eighth seed. Having claimed the title with each other five years ago, Maher and Kennedy looked timeless. Up against rising national stars and number two seeds Kayla Mears and Jana Milutinovic, the WA duo dug deep.
“ It wasn’t an easy path [to the finals]. We had three hard games where it could have gone either way. But we hustled and worked hard to be consistent.“ Maher said.
“I think a big part of the weekend was staying positive, so to have Shelby keeping me up and not letting errors or tough stretches get us down was really important.” Kennedy added.
A shaky start to the second set saw Maher and Kennedy well behind Mears and Milutinovic. The eastern state pair were able to collect a run of points before Kennedy and Maher called for a critical timeout.
“The timeout was really important. We sat down and just said we are making so many errors. We just repeated that for 30 seconds and then stood up and both agreed we needed to do better.” Maher said.
The timeout was decisive and the WA challengers fought back to take out the title in two sets, 21-15, 21-20.
In the men’s game, it was an all West Australian affair with Hunt and Bacovic up against Mark Peterson and former Australian Volleyroo Joshua Court. In one of the most exciting games of the weekend, both teams looked good in extremely windy conditions. Taking the game to a third set, Hunt and Bacovic claimed the first set, 21-13; however, a resurgent Peterson and Court collected the second set, 21-17.
“We won the first set, but a few bad patches threw us a little bit in the second. The score says it pretty clearly, but it could have gone either way.” Hunt said.
“We’ve never made it past the quarter-finals, so to actually play in a Grand Final in front of friends and families makes it all the more sweeter.” Bacovic added.
In an exhilarating point-for-point third set, Hunt and Bacovic were able to capitalise on some glitzy play to push themselves over the line. They clinched the third set 15-12.
“Our main focus, especially in a tight set like the third, was to control what we do well. We like windy conditions so I think that helped play into our hands. Also, we’ve played with and against Courty and Mark enough to know each other’s ins and outs.” Bacovic said.
In the men’s competitive division, Lachlan MacNeill and Kiriill Butler came back from a first-set loss to beat Tristan Raven and Travis Nurse in three sets, 8-21, 22-20 and 15-5. Olivia Botica and Sophie Meyerkort were the champions in the women’s competitive division Grand Final. Botica and Meyerkort fought hard against Jemah Kelly and Stephanie Mews to win gold in three sets, 21-14, 20-22, 15-13. While Sebastian Northmore and Danyl Mathews won the U16 division title, and, Finlay Gordon and Jed Walker collected the U18 gold.
Congratulations to all of the weekend’s competitors. The Alcohol. Think Again Beach Tour now moves on to Bunbury for Round 6 at Koombana Bay.
To find more photos from the event, head event photographer Jeffrey Chan’s Flicker page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/59184694@N03/albums
For more information about the Alcohol. Think Again Beach Tour or this weekend’s Alcohol. Think Again WA Open, please contact the Volleyball WA office.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Chan