Americans, Japanese & Kiwis net pool titles at VolleyFest Cook Islands


American Earl Schultz (black top) blocks against Japanese rival Daisuke Shibata.

Rarotonga, Cook Island, January 15, 2020 - Two teams from the United States along with pairs from Japan and New Zealand each won two matches here Wednesday at the inaugural VolleyFest Cook Islands to capture their pools and advance to the quarterfinals at this week's FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour event.

American pool winners Wednesday were fifth-seeded Travis Mewhirter/Adam Roberts (Pool D) and ninth-seeded Christopher Austin/Earl Schultz (Pool A). Joining the USA group victors with 2-0 pool play match marks were third-seeded qualifiers Hitoshi Murakami/Takashi Tsuchiya of Japan (Pool C) and seventh-seeded Griffin Muller/Sam O'Dea of New Zealand (Pool B).

Also advancing to the knockout phase of the competition were three pairs from Australia, two teams from Japan and one duo each from Canada, Norway and Tuvalu as Thursday's two rounds of elimination will set the field for Friday's semifinals and medal matches.

With his Pool A elimination win Wednesday with Stian Opsahl over host country participants 16th-seeded Rai-Arii Enoka and Atatoa Herman, 51-year-old Jorre Kjemperud of Norway became the oldest male player to win an FIVB World Tour match.

The eighth-seeded Norwegians’ next match Thursday is against sixth-seeded Liam Kopp/Alexander Russell of Canada with the winner meeting Mewhirter and Roberts in the quarterfinals. Kjemperud is a three-time Olympian and this week’s event is his 206th FIVB World Tour tournament to tie him for third on the participation list with Martin Laciga of Switzerland.

Stian Opsahl (left) and Jorre Kjemperud of Norway

Vladimir Kostioukov of Russia held the record for oldest male player to win an FIVB World Tour match as he was 50 when he competed in an early June 2003 event in Greece with Pavel Karpukhin as the pair posted a qualification victory in Rhodes.

The VolleyFest Cook Islands is the seventh men's event on the 2019-2020 FIVB World Tour calendar and the fourth within the Asian Volleyball Confederation where a total of 19 tournaments will be played during the 2020 international beach volleyball campaign.