Top beach volleyball talent too strong on the day

ALLAN BRODIE
Last updated 13:00 28/12/2013
Ellie Bell
DIGGING DEEP: Ellie Bell digs the ball on the way to taking out the women's final.

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With a strong men's field, a small women's field of real quality and five four-a-side teams, the 2013 Mondo Travel Kaiteriteri Beach Bash provided an exciting day of beach volleyball, with good matches in the pairs competition and a whole lot of fun in the social fours grade.

All yesterday's preliminary matches were played as one set to 25 points, with the playoffs being the best of three set format at the Lagoon courts in Kaiteriteri.

For preliminary play the women joined the men's pairs and played a round robin format in two pools. In the playoff phase the women's pairs played a final match to determine the division winners while the men played crossover semifinals and finals.

The women's final saw the pairing of Ellie Bell (Nelson) and Olivia McDonald (Taranaki) taking on a top Nelson pairing of Hannah Davenhill and Katie Ditzel.

Bell, Davenhill and Ditzel represented New Zealand at age group level during 2013, while McDonald had played at the FIVB U19 World Beach Volleyball Championships in Portugal, and then for the New Zealand senior women's team at the world championships qualifying tournament in China in September.

On the day Bell and McDonald proved too strong with McDonald's height and hitting strength being able to take full advantage of Bell's speed and coverage in back court, to run out comfortable winners 2-0, with set scores of 15-8 15-8.

In the men's pairs, the top four teams after pool play were Nick Bell and Alex Low (previous winners of this event), Sam Adams and Sean Thurlow, Harry Fergusson and Monty Brosnahan and Jeremy Ditzel and Jacob King.

The first semifinal was a beauty with Fergusson-Brosnahan taking the first set 15-12. However Ditzel-King came back fighting, going point for point to take the second set 17-15 and then managed to maintain the momentum to take the third set 15-9. The final rally saw Fergusson roll his ankle while attempting to return the ball giving Ditzel-King the match.

This match was notable for both the hitting and court coverage of both teams as they tried to take control of the match.

The second semifinal saw Bell and Low take a comfortable win over Adams-Thurlow 2-0 with set scores of 15-6 15-13.

Bell and Low then went on to take the men's pairs final 2-0 with better combination and hitting strength than Ditzel and King with set scores of 15-10, 15-8, to back up their win in this tournament from two years ago.

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Low said after the match it was "great to be back on the beach at Kaiteri, we are looking forward to returning next year to defend the title.

"The sand and the weather conditions today made for a great tournament."

The social fours grade saw a good turnout from some of the younger Motueka players joined by holiday visitors from Christchurch.

The semifinals saw The Dingos take a close battle from The Crusaders 25-19, while in the second semifinal The Team dealt to Team Mass 25-14, with a little help from Johnny Cameron, who had taken time away from his singing commitments to give his cousins a hand.

The final saw The Dingos take out the social fours division with a win over The Team in a competitive match 25-20. The Team Dingos lineup comprised Noah Appleton, Marvin Strub, Jed Prickett and Tim Prickett.

The Kaiteriteri Beach Bash was supported by Mondo Travel - Motueka, Sprig & Fern Tavern - Motueka, Nelson Aviation College and Westpac.

The next Tasman Volleyball event is the Tasman open beach volleyball championships to be played at Tahunanui on Thursday February 6.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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