NEVZA Beach Volleyball Championship Underway
22nd October 2016
Winter may be closing in on the South coast of England, but the beach volleyball season isn’t quite over yet thanks to the NEVZA Beach Volleyball Championship.
The indoor beach volleyball courts at LeAF Academy, Bournemouth played host to the competition, with teams from England, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Denmark all competing for valuable ranking points.
An all-England affair got the first round of fixtures off to a start, with Mark Garcia-Kidd and Matt Hunter facing Issa Batrane and Phil Smith on court one. Nothing separated the two sides in the early stages of the first set, before Batrane/Smith began to edge ahead at 17-15. Batrane/Smith went on to win the first set 21-18, before the second set started in a similar fashion. Nothing separated to the two English pairings at 12-12, but Batrane/Smith took control to win the set 21-14 and the match 2-0.
A close affair on centre court, Sweden’s Pahlsson/Tivefalt took Stief/Schade of Denmark the distance over three sets in the women’s competition. Denmark controlled the first set (21-13), before point for point play from 6-6 through to 12-12 in the second set prepared Sweden for the comeback. Sweden won the second set 21-14 but lost the third set 15-10 and the match 2-1.
England’s top seeded men’s team, Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf came up against Jones/Allen. Challenging the 14th seeds from the offset, powerful hitting from Jake Sheaf soon took the first set to match point. Gregory/Sheaf saw out the set 21-17, before taking a 10-5 lead in the second. Jones/Allen continued to struggle against the experienced pairing, and soon found themselves 14-7 behind before losing the set 21-14 and the match 2-0.
Over on centre court, England’s top women’s pairing faced beach volleyball coach Denise Austin and Millie Constable. Austin/Constable held their own against Jess Grimson and Vicky Palmer in the early stages of the match, but Grimson/Palmer soon pulled into a 13-9 lead. Austin/Constable closed the gap to 16-18 but the opposition closed the set 21-17. Having grown into the game, Grimson/Palmer showed quality in the second set to win 21-11 (2-0).
Following England on centre court, Sondergard/Okholm gave a clinical performance to comfortably beat twin-sister Swedish pairing Strålman/Strålman 21-4, 21-5 (2-0).
Sam Dunbavin and Sam Walrond had an unlucky first-round draw, with a fixture against second seeded Bergerud/Solhaug. Dunbavin/Walrond put in a performance in the first set, but they were unable to match the precision of the Norwegians and lost out 21-15. Bergerud/Solhaug carried momentum into the following set to win 21-10 (2-0).
Now in the second round, Batrane/Smith had the arduous challenge against number one seeds Berntsen/Sørum. The top team from Norway won the first set 21-12, teeing up to take control in the second. Batrane/Smith remained within reach at 13-8 but drifted to 10-18 before losing the set 21-11 and the match 2-0.
Gregory/Sheaf had a more realistic opposition in sixth seeds Moen/Sørum, as things stood level at 7-7 in the first set. Good service from Gregory put England 16-12 in the lead, which they soon extended to 18-12. England were forced to call timeout at 18-14 but managed to see out the set 21-17. Gregory/Sheaf improved in the second set to comfortably win 21-13 (2-0).
In the women’s competition, Grimson/Palmer’s second round match came against Norway’s Lunde/Ulveseth. Despite being seeded three places below Norway, Grimson/Palmer managed to edge ahead 17-15 in the first set following close point for point play. England carried the lead further to win the set 21-16 and built on the score in the following set to carry themselves into the third round 21-14 (2-0).
Finland’s Lahti/Parkkinen showed they meant business, strolling into the third round with a dominating performance against Påhlsson/Tivefält to win 21-6, 21-6 (2-0).
In the knockout stages of the men’s competition, Jones/Allen bowed out 2-0 (21-17, 21-16) to Mohajer/Tellnes to finish in 13th place while Dunbavin/Walrond defeated Opsahl/Naas 2-0 (21-13, 21-16) to guarantee ninth.
Austin/Constable were taken the distance against Påhlsson/Tivefält after winning the first set 21-13, but managed to narrowly see out the second set 21-18 and to win the third set 15-9 and the match 2-1 for a place in tomorrow’s seventh place knock-out match.
Batrane/Smith stepped up against Norway’s Mohajer/Tellnes, taking an early 10-3 lead in the first set. England extended the lead to 17-11 and eventually saw out the first set 21-15. Norway showed signs of pulling back into the match at 8-8 in the second set but strong connecting play from Batrane/Smith allowed England to regain control and see out the match 2-0 (21-16).
In the final fixture of the day, Garcia-Kidd/Hunter didn’t fancy their chances against Moen/Sørum. Norway comfortably won the first set 21-12, but the English pairing fired each other up and refused to go down without a fight. A thrilling second set saw England level by a 25-23 set score, allowing them to frustrate Norway in the final set. Garcia-Kidd/Hunter edged ahead before calling timeout at 10-7, going on to win a big point off the block 13-9. Magnificently, England brought an end to the day winning the final set 15-10 and are guaranteed at least seventh place.
Chris Gregory and Jake Sheaf will play for a place in the semi-finals tomorrow, as will Jess Grimson and Vicky Palmer in what is guaranteed to be another epic day of volleyball.
For a full list of men’s results and fixtures click here
For a full list of women’s results and fixtures click here