The second round of the 2023/24 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour was fiercely fought and ultimately the top two seeds made it through to both finals of the Cobram Barooga Classic.
Stefie Fejes and Jana Milutinovic broke through for their first Tour victory as a combination while Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis went one better than their second place in 2022 to win their first National Tour title in almost two years
The top four seeds in the men’s draw proceeded to the semis having not dropped a set, however that’s when things really heated up.
Top seeds Carracher and Nicolaidis looked home with three match points before D’Artagnan Potts and Ben Hood ripped off seven straight points to hold an early lead in the decider. The Beach Pro Tour regulars were able to regroup to claim the third set and return to their second straight gold medal match in Cobram.
Jack Pearse and Paul Burnett entered the semis as slight favourites over James Takken and Josh Howat, however their enthralling battle went the distance in every set before the second seeds prevailed.
The gold medal match was a close contest, as was to be expected between four players who train with each other week-in, week-out.
Carracher and Nicolaidis seemed to always have the edge in the opener and took the opening set by four, and while the second set was in the balance throughout, the more experienced pair shone when it counted most to go one better than their Cobram silver in 2022.
“These boys obviously know us really well and so do Zac [Schubert] and Tom [Hodges] back home so we know when we’re doing stuff well because we can beat them,” said Carracher.
“But we also know when we’re not doing it well because they know what we’re doing so they can stop us really well.
“Testament to those guys; Jacko had a really massive game there at the back court making a heap of digs and Pauly was all over us so it was really awesome to have the opportunity to play them.”
The men’s bronze medal match went to three sets, with third seeds James Takken and Josh Howat outlastting D’Artagnan Potts and Ben Hood.
The women’s decider was a showdown between the top two seeds with both teams breezing through their early morning semi-finals.
In the final, Fejes and Milutinovic gained a career 3-2 head-to-head edge over Georgia Johnson and Jasmine Fleming, beating the top seeds in straight sets.