Beach Gold at U23 World Championships16 June 2014
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Manly Beach’s Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have combined to win gold for Australia at the World Under 23 Beach Volleyball Championships in Poland.
Laird and Artacho del Solar went into the event as second seeds and dropped only one match on their way to the world title.
They beat Americans Lara Dykstra and Jace Pardon 21-19, 17-21, 15-7 in the Myslowice final.
“We knew it was going to be tough, USA always comes to play,” 20-year-old Artacho said.
“They are very competitive, we knew it was going to be a three-setter.”
Laird, 21, admits the Australians probably let the match slip after winning the first set.
“We dropped concentration a bit, made a few errors,” said Laird.
“But USA leapt into the game as well. All credit where there is credit due. But we were prepared for a long game.”
Laird was full of praise for Peruvian-born Artacho, who previously won a bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in 2012.
“Mariafe has a little bit of magic in her back pocket,” she said.
“She’s had that her whole volleyball career and I never get stressed in the back of the sets, because I feel safe that she will pull something out. It was a fight, but we got back.”
Artacho del Solar and Laird are this year part of Volleyball Australia’s Adelaide-based high performance program.
Their win overnight follows on from double victories last weekend for Australia at the Asian Championships in China.
Australia’s top ranked men’s team, Isaac Kapa and Chris McHugh, won their second Asian title, while our top ranked women’s team, Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy, notched up their first Asian gold.