First Home Nations Junior Beach Cup a golden success

15th August 2018

First Home Nations Junior Beach Cup a golden success

After three days of competition at Cardiff Beach Volleyball Centre, the first Home Nations Junior Beach Volleyball Cup had a memorable end for England’s men and women on Wednesday 8th August, with teams taking gold medals home from across the border.

The brainchild of Denise Austin, the tournament followed a unique format that saw teams consisting of two pairs. Teams competed with each other with their pair 1s playing their rivals' pair 1s and the pair 2s also facing off. If the tie was level after the two matches, a ‘golden set’ decider to 15 points was required with the coach of each team being able to pick any of their four players to play as a pair; a format which saw 18 matches require the additional set to separate the teams.

With twenty-two years’ experience of developing beach volleyball in England and the UK, Denise is an avid follower of the growing beach volleyball scene in US universities, growth which has seen beach volleyball become the fastest growing NCAA Division 1 sport. Inspired by this explosion she enthused: “The squad mentality with over 20 players competing for 10 places in the college competitions means the game is developing massively and reaching new heights for the US.”

And with twenty England girls representing the country across the Home Nations Junior Beach Volleyball Cup, the team format on this side of the Atlantic has helped to inject a new competitive element into selection for future beach volleyball events and representing England, by providing an opportunity for more than one pair to experience international competition.

Freda Bussey, Volleyball England Core Market Director, who was working as the Tournament Director, was thrilled by the competition: “It’s been a big success for beach volleyball and has also been a great chance to give new and developing coaches the opportunity to experience match coaching at an international event.”

Additionally, matches from multiple courts over the three days of competition were livestreamed for supporters, gathering over 1200 views in total, allowing supporters to follow the England men’s and women’s teams journey to gold.

England’s routes to victory

In the women’s competition, England 1 (K.Keefe/Austin and Blight/Davies) and England 2 (Bentley/Wittram and Freitas/Tucker) progressed directly to the semi-finals after topping the pools and both continued their runs to the final with victories over Scotland 1 (Hamilton/Ross and E.Waldie/Ramage) and England 3 (Brand/Hulme and A.Keefe/Morgan). England 3 almost upset the party and refused to relent to England 1 in two matches, but the England 3 pairs eventually lost out 15-8 in the golden set.

The men’s semi-finals witnessed England (Lucas/Bialokoz and Goalen/Anderson) dominate Scotland 2 (Murray/Anderson and Hook/Richie) and take both matches 2-0. A closer affair played out between Scotland 1 (Mexon/Fraser and Hook/Richie) and Wales (Sully/Monckton and Nettley/Morgan) and a tie after the first two games led to a golden set to decide England’s opposite finalist. The Welsh pair of Netley/Morgan seized the opportunity and stepped up to secure the win 15-10.

The finals

The closing day of the Home Nations Junior Beach Volleyball Cup was the day of the golden set, with matches galore going down to the wire.

In the men’s tournament, England’s team of continued their fine form to dominate the final matches against Wales and take the gold medals home. Goalen/Anderson (ENG) bested Sully/Monckton (WAL) 21-11, 21-8 and Lucas/Bialokoz (ENG) defeated Nettley/Morgan (WAL) 21-12, 21-12 in assured performances.

Victory for England was secured before the first ball was served on the women’s side, with England 1 and England 2 having the honours of facing off for the prize. K.Keefe/Austin (ENG 1) saw off Bentley/Wittram (ENG 2) 21-13, 21-13. To add to the drama, Freitas/Tucker (ENG 2) made sure the final would go all the way to the golden set after beating Blight/Davies (ENG 1) 21-14, 21-15. But experience saw ENG 1 triumph after taking the deciding golden set 15-8 over ENG 2 and round off a stellar three days of competition.

Full results and a photo gallery from the competition can be viewed on the tournament website:

First Home Nations Junior Beach Cup a golden success