Games knockout matches confirmed

The Beach Blacks and Beach Ferns Commonwealth Games Quarter Finals opponents have been confirmed.

Beach Blacks Brad Fuller and Sam O'Dea face Rwanda's Olivier Ntagengwa and Venuste Gatsinzi at 10pm Friday night NZ time, and can expect a tough test.

The Rwandan pair qualified for the quarters with wins against South Africa and the Maldives, and pushing Australia hard in their final pool match.

Fuller and O'Dea were unbeaten through pool play, qualifying top in their group after a tough hit out against England's Bello Brothers on Thursday.

"I think our intensity was spot on, very intense when we needed to be and then we came back down to a good level when we were ready to side out again. If we can take that through to the quarterfinals, then that's going to be huge for us," said Brad Fuller.

In the women's competition, Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley will play England's Jess Grimson and Daisy Mumby at 7am Saturday morning NZ time.

The Beach Ferns are ranked 41 places ahead of the home team, but will have to deal with a home crowd - the English duo had wins against the Solomon Islands and Scotland but went down in two sets to Vanuatu on their way to the quarters, while the Beach Ferns accounted for Kenya and Ghana but lost to the strong Canadian side in their last pool match.

"The Canada match definitely set us up for our quarters and gives us a lot of confidence. We know that when we play our game, we can foot it with anyone, we're really stoked," said Alice Zeimann.

  • Beach Blacks v Rwanda - 22:00 Friday 5 August NZ time, live on Sky Sport 5/Bir 2 or Sky Channel 055
  • Beach Ferns v England - 07:00 Saturday 6 August 7am NZ time, live on Sky Sport 6 /Bir 3 or Sky Channel 056 
  • Full schedule

Two wins from two matches

The Beach Blacks and Beach Ferns have won their first matches at the Commonwealth Games. 

Both pairs were put under pressure at times by Cyprus and Kenya respectively, before recording 2-0 wins.

Both teams looked right at home on the Birmingham sand, in front of a noisy, vibrant crowd. "The crowd was super intense, and definitely got in behind the Cyprus guys, the underdogs! But we had some great support out there," said Sam O'Dea.

"In that first set we were just really trying to feel things out and the guys from Cyprus just came out blasting, which was a good test. They went up quite late in the first set, so it was good for us to win that one, that was clutch."

"Once we got that we really found our rhythm and showed a bit more intensity in the second, so that's something we'll look for our next matches."

"Cyprus were a good test for us for sure, it's awesome to play small countries just going at it, wet really had no idea how they're gonna play, so we had to make a lot of stuff up on the fly, talking a lot between ourselves about strategy and and stuff like that," said Sam ODea.

Both teams are back in action on Tuesday morning NZ time with the Beach Ferns meeting Ghana at 6am and the Beach Blacks facing Tuvalu at 8am, get all the details including TV Coverage here.

Game one results
NZL O'Dea S./Fuller 2 - 0 Liotatis/Zorbis CYP
Set 1 21 - 18
Set 2 21 - 13
NZL win 2-0
Full stats

NZL Zeimann/Polley 2 - 0 Makokha/Khadambi KEN
Set 1 21 - 10
Set 2 21 - 19
NZL win 2-0
Full stats

 

'This is what we've been planning for'

Volleyball NZ High Performance coach Jason Lochhead is delighted with the Beach Blacks' win in the Futures event in Giardini Naxos, Italy.

"This is what we've been planning for, for - this team to lose their first game, basically with heat stroke, and then win five matches in 35 degree heat over the next few days, that's a huge, huge improvement in these conditions."

"We're pretty happy with the adjustments the guys are making and they're tracking in the right direction. There are still a lot of things for us to work on, but it's a huge improvement," said Lochhead.

Not only does the win prove Sam O’Dea and Brad Fuller are on track for Commonwealth Games preparation, but sets them up for securing tournament spots on the World Tour.

"It was pretty important for them to get this result, as it will set them up for breaking through on the world tour, and getting into some of the challenger tournaments, so that's pretty massive. You're always looking to work your way up the ladder, so this was pretty important for setting them up later in the year."

Beach Ferns Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann were also in action in Giardini Naxos, on the island of Sicily, and finished tied for fifth.


"The women went really well, and had a great shot at winning this tournament, if it wasn't for a small patch where they were just a little bit off, just at the wrong time in the third set where they were headed for the semi final, so they were pretty gutted about that," said Lochhead.

Next for the men is a national tour event in Poland along with a few days downtime to allow the bodies to recover after playing seven tournaments in a row. Next are two big events in Portugal and Morocco, before travelling to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games.

 

More
Full results from Giardini Naxos

You can see the Beach Blacks' semi final match here

"Getting gold, that's our goal"

Beach Blacks Sam O'Dea and Brad Fuller are a potent mix of experience and potential heading into the Birmingham Games.

O'Dea already has a bronze medal in the cabinet from the 2018 Gold Coast Games and is looking for another, coloured gold, in Birmingham. The games follow a successful New Zealand summer and time on the Asian and European World Tour circuit, winning the Italian Futures event in Giardini Naxos in early July.

"That was a crazy one, in every tournament you could come 20th, or you could come first, there's not much of a difference. Coming back from heat exhaustion in the early rounds to win it was awesome," said Sam O'Dea.

In their time on the World Tour, O'Dea and Fuller have put plenty of thinking into their styles and developing a strong partnership on the court.

"We've had a pretty clear picture of what kind of team we want to be, our strengths together and what we wanted to work on since we started - because we haven't played together so long, that picture really helped, and having our coach Jason Lochhead to guide us has been really cool too."

"I always knew Brad was very talented athletically, he's a really quick learner. We're pretty similar personality-wise, we can both be on the quiet side, which is something we both want to be conscious of in case the energy goes flat, he's been really open to learning, it's been really good, he's been awesome, picking things up and working hard," said Sam O'Dea.

"We're very similar in a lot of ways, quite relaxed and level headed people. In terms of experience, Sam has a lot to draw from, so he definitely helps me in that regard," said Brad Fuller.

"I like to be the one that cheers loud for most points. But every now and then Sam pipes up and that's when you know that he's into it! But we get along really well and we're talking all the time between points, just constantly thinking about what we can do to improve."

Having been on the road since the New Zealand summer, the Beach Blacks have had a good look at their Games rivals ahead of the tournament.

"The preparation has been great, going overseas I wasn't really sure what to expect, but we've had a chance to see who we're going to be up against in some of the bigger games, and we've actually played the teams in our pool twice, so that's definitely been handy. It's going to be a new experience for me being part of the NZ team, with more sporting codes along, it's very exciting, said Brad Fuller.

"Now we're getting closer the the Games, we're looking at our competition and what we can do to meet the challenge - obviously Canada, Australia, England will be tough, but there are a lot of tier two countries that have come up since the Gold Coast to watch out for," said Sam O'Dea.

Italy win for Beach Blacks

Sam O’Dea and Brad Fuller grabbed their maiden victory on the Beach Volleyball World Tour on Monday, claiming victory at the Futures event in Giardini Naxos in Italy.

After dropping their opening Pool C match on Friday, O’Dea and Fuller charged through the rest of the competition, winning five straight matches – all five going to three sets.

Three wins came on overnight on Sunday (NZ time) with the Kiwis taking successive Pool and Playoff wins over pairs from Argentina, Denmark and Holland.

Then came a three-set semi-final victory over Lithuanian pairing of Stankevicius and Knasas with the Beach Blacks claiming the third set 15-13.

After recovery, the kiwi pair then returned to centre court to finish the job – outlasting Italians Benzi and Bonifazi 17-15 in the third set to claim the gold medal.

The victory is believed to be the third win for a New Zealand pair on the world tour across men’s and women’s events.

Meanwhile, Beach Ferns Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann were competing in the same event in the women’s competition, reaching the quarter-finals before losing in three sets to eventual finalists Cools and Vd Vonder from Belgium.

Men’s pairing of Tom Hartles and Alani Nicklin won their first match in qualifying before falling in three sets to Hungarians Hajos and Streli.