Shepparton, Australia, February 3, 2018 – Top seeds Shaunna Marie Polley and Kelsie Wills pulled off a dramatic 37-35 set win with their backs against the wall to come from behind and win one of the women’s quarterfinals at the Shepparton one-star event on the 2018 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour.
Two American pairs and one Italian duo joined the New Zealanders among the best four of the tournament and will contest the medals in Sunday’s finale at Victoria Park Lake.
All four semifinalist teams played only two games apiece on Saturday, as they all emerged from the first stage of the main draw as pool winners.
Seventh-seeded Jace Pardon and Caitlin Ledoux from USA started the day with a 2-0 (21-15, 24-22) win against second-seeded Australians Phoebe Bell and Jessyka Ngauamo to top the final standings in Pool B and advance directly to the quarterfinals. To step further into the semis, the Americans mastered a speedy 2-0 (21-10, 21-16) victory over Japan’s Yukako Suzuki and Kaho Sakaguchi in just 29 minutes.
In one of Sunday’s semifinals, Pardon and Ledoux will meet third-seeded Marta Menegatti and Laura Giombini from Italy, who survived two tie-breakers on Saturday on the way to the final four. The Italians won Pool C after a 2-1 (21-15, 20-22, 15-7) win against Japan’s Ayumi Kusano and Takemi Nishibori. In the quarterfinals, they came back from a set down to claim a 2-1 (18-21, 21-14, 15-11) victory over Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu.
Americans Amanda Dowdy and Irene Pollock, seeded fourth, were quick to deliver a 2-0 (21-14, 21-17) shutout of Netherlands’ Katja Stam and Julia Wouters to jump straight to the quarterfinals as Pool D winners.
In the second USA vs. Japan quarterfinal battle, it was once again the Americans who came out victorious, but this time it was much harder for Dowdy and Pollock to reach that 2-1 (19-21, 21-12, 15-13) win against Chiyo Suzuki and Reika Murakami after 47 minutes of play.
A spectacular save by Irene Pollock
All the exciting sand action on the Australian sand on Saturday was crowned by a spectacular showdown in the last match of the day. Shaunna Marie Polley and Kelsie Wills had already played one three-setter to defeat Pata and Matauatu by 2-1 (21-16, 18-21, 15-13) in the Pool A final. Qualifiers Katja Stam and Julia Wouters from the Netherlands were the only team that reached the quarterfinals after a tie-breaker win in the first elimination round – 2-1 (21-14, 19-21, 15-9) against Japan’s Yui Nagata and Minori Kumada. The Dutch surprised the New Zealanders in an extended first set, but Polley and Wills fought back to win an epic second set on the way to a 2-1 (23-25, 37-35, 15-12) victory.
Polley and Wills will meet Dowdy and Pollock in the first semifinal on Sunday, set to start at 07.30 local time. All matches on the last competition day will be streamed live on the FIVB YouTube Channel