Summer to remember for Chacon

When High Performance Director Jason Lochhead put out the SOS to Alaina Chacon to join the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach presented by Tip Top roadshow and partner Olivia MacDonald, Chacon leapt at the chance.

"I was more than happy to fly out for a couple of weeks and be that partner for her - I'd like to have her as my full time partner and we we've already tried to look into citizenship. She's a great person, great athlete, and I'm lucky to have her as partner for these three weeks.

Chacon and MacDonald were a formidable presence on the tour, winning the Mission Bay event, making the last two finals and playing a series of huge three set finals against the Beach Ferns.

"Coming into it, I had no idea what to expect, but the tour's exceeded all expectations I might have had. It's just been so much fun. I don't want to leave. So I'm actually staying another week and coaching the features event for the New Zealand team. So I'm pretty excited about that, this is my first coaching experience on the World Tour, which is awesome add to the resume."

"What I love is that it's really competitive, but after the games everybody's kind of chatting it up and joking around with each other - I love that, and it's good for me to be around that, I've really, really enjoyed it," said Alaina.

"It's been awesome to have Alaina out, to have that level come play and challenge our to NZ teams that much, those are the games we need to have. Those are the games our teams need to play to get as good as they can," said Jason Lochhead.

Chacon is now on her way back to the United States, to resume her coaching work with Florida State Seminoles.

"It's been a pretty sweet gig, I get to work with with Niles and Nico Santa who were generous enough to give me another week out here. Big shout out for them, because without them I don't get these opportunities. I love that team and programme, because I also train I'm back out there in Tallahassee, I get to jump in with the girls, so it's sweet, I absolutely love it."

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Tough competition set to pay dividends

For Volleyball NZ High Performance Director Jason Lochhead, this summer's action was a chance to put our teams to the test against players from around the world, and take their games to a new level.

"New Zealand is pretty awesome because we're so tucked away from the rest of the world, but it makes it hard in sport because you have to fly so far to get that competition. So to be able to get the Futures World Beach Pro Tour here and get more exposure for more players is pretty awesome," said Jason.

Training alongside and playing against this level of player is a chance to see the standards required to make it on the world stage.

"Especially the young players, having these athletes coming out and seeing what some of these internationals in action and being able to test themselves and how close they can come."

With a number of new pairings in the mix like Brad Fuller and Alani Nicklin, and Jack McManaway and Tom Reid as well as established teams like Beach Ferns Shaunna Polley and Alice Zeimann, Lochhead was pleased to see the teams among the medals.

"Jack And Tom had a great start, winning in Nelson and Auckland. It's always tough when you're a new partnership and figuring little bits out here and there, they're kind of going through that. I know they'll be pretty gutted that they lost that last one (at the Beach Tour Pro - Futures event), but that's what you have to go through to learn and get better?"

"So now it's like can they learn from it and come back stronger? It's always better to have that happen then get too many easy games and go out on the World Tour and have to figure it out, so pretty cool for them to do that," said Jason.

"Alice and Shaunna are looking really good, it's exciting they got into the Mexico Elite 16 tournament, with all that craziness going on, it's great they were able to stay focused and finish the job."

From here, Lochhead is taking Fuller and Nicklin, Tom Hartles and Tom Heijs and Tom Reid and Jack McManaway to Australia and Asia for a series of events, before meeting the women's teams in LA for training and heading to Europe for more international events.

All photos courtesy 

Bachcare & G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour - a perfect fit

Beaches and Baches – the classic Kiwi summer combo – have been together again for the 2023 G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour and Beach Pro Tour Futures.

After joining the Volleyball New Zealand whanau in 2022, we’re stoked to have Bachcare Holiday Homes on board again in 2023 as our official Holiday Homes & Accommodation Rental partner.

Bachcare have over 2000 pre-serviced holiday homes, baches and apartments available for rent in NZ and want to help everyone involved in the NZ Beach tour to find their happy place and their Beach tour accommodation!

Volleyball NZ CEO Toni-Maree Carnie says the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour and Beach Pro Tour partnership with Bachcare is a critical element in the delivery of a strong overall event experience.

“We are lucky to have Bachcare with us in support of the tour – having access to quality accommodation options for VNZ staff, players and supporters is vital for the success of each of the events around the country.

“In Bachcare we have a high-quality provider on board, and we thank Tracy and the wider team for their support of volleyball over the summer.”

Bachcare's General Manager Tracey Foxall says “We are excited to be onboard and supporting the Beach Tour and the World Pro Tour, as the official accommodation partner.

“We're glad we could again provide a variety of accommodation options across the tour locations this year - for the those playing on the sand and those working to bring the tour to life.”


Consistent performers win Tour Finals

Some consistent performers on the 2022 G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour were rewarded on Sunday with Tour Finals victories at the North Harbour Volleyball Centre in Mairangi Bay.

A regular on the Sunday podium over the five tour events, Johann Timmer finished the summer on the top step in the final event, pairing up with Greg Vukets to claim the Auckland Tour Finals win 21-13, 21-14 over Giles Black and Jeremy Nielsen.

In the women’s competition, following three straight second-place finishes, Olivia Macdonald and Julia Tilley broke through to claim the final tour stop with a 21-15, 21-15 win over Anna Harrison and Antonia Harrison.

But Sunday’s results didn’t impact the respective overall winners of the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour.

On the women’s side, Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley claimed overall victory on the tour, proving too strong with four victories from four events.

The dynamic duo now goes offshore to test themselves in Mexico before coming home via a Futures event in Australia. 

Polley says the pair were delighted with their work on the G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour this summer, including taking the National Championship on their home beach in Mt Maunganui earlier this month.

“We are super stoked to have won New Zealand tour champs this year after training hard all summer.

“We have had lots of things that we had been working on in training and we are proud that we were able to successfully implement them on the tour,” Polley said.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side of the competition, Brad Fuller and Sam O’Dea were overall winners, with the key moments coming from the duo’s sweep of the two South Island tour events in Tasman and Christchurch in February.

For Fuller, the two wins were his first on tour – a feeling he wants more of now he’s tasted it.

“Going from not having won an event before to wining the tour is special,” Fuller said. 

“Popping the champagne on top of the podium is a great feeling. There is no better feeling than having all the hard work this year pay off. 

With that personal milestone now ticked off, he and O’Dea have now shifted focus to the next big target.

“We have another week in New Zealand before setting off to lock in our selection for the spot at Commonwealth Games, starting in Coolangatta for Australian Champs and FIVB Futures event.

“We then go to Thailand for an event before coming back to New Zealand and training. If successful in getting the Commonwealth Games selection, we will be heading back overseas to compete around Europe in preparation for the Games in June.”

Click here for On-Demand viewing of Auckland’s Tour Finals 

G.J. Gardner NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top – Auckland Tour Finals, March 11-13

Women’s Final: Olivia Macdonald/Julia Tilley bt Harrison/Harrison 21-15, 21-15

Men’s Final: Johann Timmer/Greg Vukets bt Black/Nielsen 21-13, 21-14

Overall winners - 2022 G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour presented by Tip Top

Women’s: Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley (4 tour victories)

Men’s: Brad Fuller and Sam O’Dea (2 tour victories)

New duos claim national titles

Two fresh duos were crowned the best in the country on Sunday at the New Zealand Beach Volleyball National Championships at Mt Maunganui Beach.

Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley have dominated the 2022 G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour and the pair proved too good again on Sunday, taking a 21-14, 21-10 win over Olivia MacDonald and Julia Tilley in the final.

Sunday’s victory is the third national title in five years for Polley while Zeimann claimed back-to-back national wins following her 2021 win alongside Francesca Kirwan.

Third place went to former Silver Fern netballer Anna Harrison and Antonia Harrison with a win over Susan Imhasly and Birgit Wustenhagen in the bronze medal match.

On the men’s side, Ben O’Dea won his second National Championship in as many years after Sunday’s hard-fought three-set victory with partner Mike Watson over Tom Reid and Johann Timmer.

Sam O’Dea, National Champion with his brother Ben in 2021, grabbed third on Sunday as he and Brad Fuller claimed a win over Tom Hartles and Alani Nicklin in the bronze medal match.

Click here for On Demand coverage of Sunday's Finals Day matches.

G.J. Gardner Homes NZ Beach Tour / National Beach Volleyball Championships
Sunday 6 March, 2021
Mt Maunganui Beach

Final – Shanna Polley/Alice Zeimann bt Oliva MacDonald/Julia Tilley 21-14, 21-10
Bronze medal match – Anna Harrison/Antonia Harrison bt Susan Imhasly/Birgit Wustenhagen 21-19, 21-14

Final - Ben O’Dea/Mike Watson bt Tom Reid/Johann Timmer 13-21, 21-13, 15-13
Bronze medal match – Sam O’Dea/Brad Fuller bt Alani Nicklin/Tom Hartles 21-14, 21-19

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