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.
Full results from Giardini Naxos
You can see the Beach Blacks' semi final match here