New Zealand’s and Australia’s teams on Volleyball Empowerment coach support win Beach Pro Tour medals

Polley & Zeimann claim home gold in Mount Maunganui, Australia’s Fejes & Milutinovic and Hood & Potts take women’s and men’s silvers

• New Zealand beach volleyball has been allocated CHF 280,000 of Volleyball Empowerment support

• Australian beach volleyball has received CHF 180,000 of Volleyball Empowerment coach support

• New Zealand’s Polley & Zeimann defend 2023 title in women’s final against Australia’s Fejes & Milutinovic

• Australian youngsters Hood & Potts celebrate first Beach Pro Tour podium

• The Beach Pro Tour returns to Australia next week for the next Futures event

 

Beneficiaries of FIVB Volleyball Empowerment coach support collected three of the six medals at last week’s Beach Pro Tour Mount Maunganui Futures event in New Zealand. Shaunna Polley & Alice Zeimann (pictured in the main photo; credits: Julie Maree Photography via Volleyball New Zealand) delighted the home fans with the women’s gold, while Australia’s Stefanie Fejes & Jana Milutinovic and Ben Hood & D'Artagnan Potts picked up the silver medals in both genders.

The other three podium spots went to representatives of the United States. Jordan Hoppe & James Shaw and Cody Caldwell & Jake Urrutia took the gold and the bronze in the men’s tournament, while Alaina Chacon & Mariah Whalen completed the women’s podium with bronze.

New Zealand’s beach volleyball has been granted a total of CHF 252,000 of Volleyball Empowerment coach support, in addition to CHF 28,000 worth of beach volleyball equipment. Jason Lochhead has been in charge of the country’s national team training since 2021.

Volleyball Australia has so far been allocated CHF 180,000 of coach support for their national beach volleyball teams. Australian Olympian and 2007 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championship bronze medallist Joshua Slack is in charge of the women’s duos, while Joey Yigit is at the helm of the country’s men’s pairs.

 

New Zealand defend women’s Mount Maunganui title

A three-set battle between the two seeding leaders marked the women’s gold medal showdown. Top-seeded Polley & Zeimann came back from a set down against second-seeded Fejes & Milutinovic to celebrate a narrow 2-1 (17-21, 21-19, 15-13) victory and collect the pair’s second gold medal on the Beach Pro Tour. The first one was also gold from Mount Manganui last year.

The duo pushed through the tournament winning all five of their matches. In the semifinals, they produced a 2-0 (21-15, 21-9) shutout of ninth-seeded qualifiers Avery Poppinga & Madison Shields of the United States. The Australian duo also met American qualifiers in the semis, but needed three sets and almost an hour to get the job done against seventh-seeded Chacon & Whalen, 2-1 (21-11, 23-25, 16-14), and secure their third Beach Pro Tour medal, after the Futures golds from Coolangatta 2023 and Mollymook 2024 at home.

In an all-American third-place match, Chacon & Whalen delivered a 2-0 (21-16, 22-20) win over Poppinga & Shields and marked their second appearance on the Tour with bronze, after finishing fourth the previous week in Mollymook.

 

Australian youngsters make their first Beach Pro Tour podium

19-year-old Ben Hood and 20-year-old D'Artagnan Potts secured their first-ever spot on a Beach Pro Tour podium. The eighth-seeded Australian pair lost their Mount Maunganui opener to Caldwell & Urrutia, but four victories later they took the chance to get back at the ninth-seeded American pair with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) semifinal win, enough for a debut medal. They went on to win the first set of the gold medal match against fourth-seeded Hoppe & Shaw, but then the Americans turned it around to celebrate a 2-1 (18-21, 21-9, 15-9) victory.

Hoppe & Shaw crowned their second participation on the Beach Pro Tour with gold, after taking the bronze in Mollymook at their debut a week earlier. The fourth-seeded Americans won all five of their games in Mount Maunganui, three of them, including the final, in tie-breakers.

The battle in their semifinal against top-seeded New Zealanders Thomas Reid & John McManaway was even fiercer, but Hoppe & Shaw emerged with a 2-1 (25-23, 20-22, 15-11) upset. Caldwell & Urrutia, on the other hand, bounced back from their semifinal loss to the Aussie youngsters with a 2-0 (21-19, 21-18) sweep of the bronze medal game against Reid & McManaway to celebrate their first Beach Pro Tour podium.

26 women’s teams and 25 men’s teams representing 11 different countries took part in the Mount Maunganui Futures. The next Futures event will take place in Coolangatta, Australia from 20 to 24 March.

 

Mount Maunganui Futures results and standings