Vanuatu and Australia to do battle for Rio

 

Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar celebrate qualification to the final

Cairns, Australia, June 25, 2016 - Vanuatu stunned China in the AVC Women’s Beach Volleyball Continental Cup in Cairns on Saturday to set up a gold medal match against hosts Australia and a potential spot at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
 
Qatar and China will do battle in the men’s gold medal match, after the Chinese overran top seeds Australia at the Olympic qualifier.
 
Vanuatu’s Linline Matauatu and Miller Pata beat China’s Xue Chen and Xia Xinyi twice in one morning to book a place in the gold medal match, while Australia’s Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar beat Japan’s Sayaka Mizoe and Nishibori Takemi twice in three hours to move into the final.
 
The men’s draw was much more straightforward, with Qatar beating Kazakhstan in straight games, and China disposing of Australia, also in straight sets.
 
Despite coming into the tournament as the second seeds, China were the favourites in the women’s competition after winning the Asian Championships earlier this year without dropping a set.
 
The team also boasted two-time top four Olympian and former world champion, Xue Chen.

But Vanuatu’s Matauatu and Pata only missed automatic Olympic selection by one place, and cheered on by a small but passionate Vanuatu crowd, they blew the Chinese away in straight sets in the golden game decider.
 
The Chinese men’s team had no such problems, despite the large Australian crowd urging their team on.
 
While the gold medallists on Sunday will earn their nation a place at the Olympics, the silver and bronze medallists will earn the right to travel to Sochi, Russia, next month for The World Continental Cup Olympic qualification tournament.
 
In the women’s draw Japan will take on China for the bronze medal, while Australia will play Kazakhstan for the men’s bronze medal.