Perfect start for top Australian teams at beach worlds

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PERFECT START FOR AUSTRALIA’S TOP TEAMS AT BEACH WORLD TITLES

Australia’s top ranked men’s and women’s teams both remain undefeated after two matches at the Beach Volleyball World Championships in The Netherlands.

Isaac Kapa and Chris McHugh recorded strong wins against teams from Kazakhstan and New Zealand, while Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy dropped their first set again Paraguay but have been in ruthless form ever since.

In something of a shock the unheralded Paraguayans took the opening set off Bawden and Clancy 21-17, which woke the Australians from their slumber.

They breezed through the second set 21-8, and then blew their opponents off the court 15-1 in the decider.

Kapa and McHugh are yet to drop a set in The Netherlands, posting a 21-18, 21-12 result over Kazakhstan, before seeing off the highly rated New Zealand pair of Mike Watson and Sam O’Dea 21-19, 21-17.

Both teams face their toughest test in pool play in their next matches, with Kapa and McHugh taking on Americans Ryan Doherty and John Mayer, while Bawden and Clancy face a showdown with Spanish seventh seeds Liliana Steiner and Elsa Baquerizo.

Bawden and Clancy came into the World Championships seeded 19th, but have a current world ranking in the top ten after a series of strong world tour results.

Kapa and McHugh are seeded 22nd in The Netherlands.

In other Australian results, Josh Court and Damien Schumann have suffered two losses in their first two matches, losing to Brazil and Austria in straight sets.

And Australia’s World Under 23 champions, Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar, were beaten by Canada in their only match of the tournament so far.

Algeria wears down brave Australia

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ALGERIA TOO STRONG FOR AUSTRALIA AT GRAND PRIX

Australia has finished its first leg of this year’s World Women’s Volleyball Grand Prix series without a win, but confident of better results next weekend.

The Australians lost to Algeria 3-0 in Kazakhstan, after losing to Kazakhstan and Cuba by the same scoreline in the opening matches.

Sophie Godfrey was once again the stand-out performer for the Volleyroos, finishing with nine points, including several blocks in a tight opening set that Australia controlled for long periods.

The final score saw Algeria win 25-19, 25-22, 25-13.

“They played a very good game, they kept the ball on us, and we unfortunately made just too many errors to keep within their pace,” coach Mark Barnard said.

“They served well while we didn’t pass very well, and that really hurt us. I, as a coach, would need to prepare the team well, and make them play the matches well.” 

Australia heads to Algeria next weekend to play the host nation, plus Kenya and Mexico, before heading home to Canberra to host the group three finals.

Captain Shae Sloane says the team needs to be realistic about the challenges ahead of it.

“It was a really good game, and they were too strong for us in the end,” she said.

“We were disappointed with how we played in the last set and I think it only shows we have a lot of work to do between now and our matches in Algeria next weekend.”

Brazil taught us a lesson, says Edgar

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BRAZIL TAUGHT US A LESSON: EDGAR

Australia has once again shown it can match the best volleyball teams in the world for short periods, but fell away quickly in its 3-0 loss to Brazil in Sydney on Sunday.

Brazil captain Bruno Rezende summed it up best when he said Australia lost motivation in the third set, with the Volleyroos going down 25-15 after 25-22, 25-20 scorelines in the opening two sets.

The result means Australia lost all four matches to the world number one ranked team, after losing both matches in Sao Paulo earlier this month.

While it had taken Australia two sets to find their rhythm against Brazil on Saturday, on Sunday they were ready for a fight from the start.

The heroes from 24 hours earlier, Tom Douglas-Powell and Harry Peacock, were both rewarded with starting berths, and they didn’t let coach Roberto Santilli down.

The lead fluctuated throughout the opening set, with setter Peacock providing power hitters Douglas-Powell and Edgar an armchair ride.

Douglas-Powell also served two big aces, but it was a contentious net call on the same player at 22-all that changed the set.

Santilli was furious with the call, receiving a yellow card for his protestations, and the Volleyroos lost their focus and the set, 25-22.

Australia once again matched Brazil for most of the second set, but when Brazil applied the pressure late the home side was left wanting.

"I think today was a bad reaction from our team,” Australian coach Roberto Santilli said.

“We only played one set and then the team disappeared.We tried to make some changes but they didn't work.

“We didn't play well technically, but we also didn't show the fighting spirit we need in World League.”

Captain Tom Edgar said his team needs to focus on next week.

"Brazil were good teachers this weekend,” Edgar said.

“They taught us a good lesson.I'm pretty shattered with the way we played today, but we will grow.

“I really want to finish off with two wins next weekend against Serbia in Melbourne next weekend.”

Australia play Serbia on Saturday and Sunday at the Melbourne State Basketball Centre.

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