In the final of the men’s tournament, New Zealand’s Jason Lochhead and Ben O’Dea had a breakout win over another new combination, Australia’s Bo Soderberg and Casey Grice. This was revenge for O’Dea and Lochhead who were beaten by Soderberg (who played with Cole Durant) at the Continental Cup final earlier in the week.
“We had a tough loss to the Aussies in the Continental Cup, so it was nice to get the job done in two sets today,” O’Dea said.
For Lochhead, it was a very productive day, as he coaches the Vanuatu women’s team of Pata/ Matuatu. He will now return to Los Angeles to resume his other coaching role with the Canadian men’s team as they prepare for the NORCECA Championships in Trinidad. O’Dea returns to Australia and will compete on the New Zealand Beach Tour which starts in Ohope Beach on January 6.
Vanuatu’s Miller Pata and Linline Matauatu defeated Australia’s Mariafe Artacho Del Solar and Nicki Laird 2-0 (21-13, 21-15) in the Women’s Gold-Medal Match at the Oceania Beach Volleyball Championships on Saturday.
Pata/ Matauatu eased ahead for a 14-7 lead at the technical timeout and continued to dominate as they took the first set 21-13. In the second set, Australia were able to keep it close going into the technical timeout when they were only points behind, but once again Vanuatu pulled away, taking the set 21-15.
Miller Pata was named Tournament MVP. “I am very excited to win the MVP at the Oceania Championships,” he said.
In the men’s bronze-medal match, Mike Watson retained a place on the podium with Rene Kapa (who was a late injury replacement for Sam O’Dea) after winning the 2014 Oceania event with O’Dea. The match was a one-sided affair against American Samoa’s Sam Luaiva and Sigalu Aitui, running away with the match 2-0 (21-10, 21-14) in 28 minutes.
The women’s bronze-medal match was extremely tight. New Zealand’s Julia Tilley and Shaunna Polley were able to defeat nemesis Becchara Palmer, who partnered Justine Mowen, 2-1 (21-19, 15-21, 16-14). There were huge blocks from both teams in the first set and New Zealand prevailed 21-19. In the second set Australia found their rhythm and took the set 21-15, forcing a third set.
It was a nail-biting set, with New Zealand unable to capitalise on their first two match points. However, they held their nerve and took the decider 16-14.
Polley commented: “We got to bring some fire, lots of screaming, so that was fun.” Tilley added: “It’s great to get a win of such an experienced team; Becchara has years of World Tour experience.”