Aussies win silver and bronze at Manly World Tour
20 March 2017
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Australian Olympians claimed silver and bronze at the debut of World Tour beach volleyball on Sydney’s iconic Manly Beach this weekend.
The final of the women’s only FIVB World Tour event was played out infront of a capacity crown on Sunday afternoon as part of Volleyfest 2017.
Rio 2016 Olympian Mariafe Artacho del Solar and Queensland’s Jessyka Ngauamo took home silver, while triple Olympian Louise Grice (nee Bawden) and another 2016 Olympian, Nikki Laird, won the bronze.
Artacho del Solar and Ngauama went dowo to Canada’s Julie Gordon and Camille Saxton in the final, who added the Manly Beach gold to the title they won in Shepparton earlier this month.
Gordon and Saxton, who did not drop a set in Shepparton and only lost one set at Manly, were unstoppable in the final, taking the opening set 21-14, and then fighting back from 1-6 down to take the second 21-16 against the Aussies.
Despit missing the top spot on the dias, the Australians were still very satisfied with their silver medal-winning performance.
Artacho del Solar and Ngauamo have been playing with different partners over the Australian summer, making their podium performance even more meritorious.
“We’re super happy to come away with a medal,” Artacho del Solar said.
“Obviously a gold was what we were going for, but to be standing on the podium in our home country is just a very special feeling you don’t get often.
“To be in the finals you have to beat the best, so we took it one game at a time and we’re happy with how it went.”
For gold medallists Gordon and Saxton, their victory is a testament to their strong partnership.
“I think today, we were down 6-1 in that second set and Camille completely took over the game,” Gordon said.
“For me that is totally amazing, to know that I can completely rely on my partner when I’m struggling.
“I’m just super proud of her, and of us, for coming back.”
Saxton said her partnership with Gordon is improving with every game.
“It’s been amazing, I think we are even more proud of this tournament than we were of Shepparton because we were put to the test a lot here,” Saxton said.
“We are really proud of our composure and how we performed at this event."
Tournament top seeds Grice and Laird beat Germany’s Anni Schumacher and Kim Behrens 21-18, 22-24, 15-11 for the bronze.
The medal capped off a big week for grice, who celebrated her wedding to fellow Australian beach volleyballer, Casey Grice, the previous weekend.
“It definitely challenged my focus, but I tried to do my best to compartmentalise as best as I could and give my all for the wedding, and then when it was time to switch I just had to put myself 100 per cent into that,” Grice said.
Ross Solly/Georgia Thompson