The sport in the Pacific country experiences growing success and popularity
A high-quality national beach volleyball tour, growing international success, rising popularity and participation numbers… These are some of the results affected by the devoted work of Volleyball New Zealand to boost the development of beach volleyball in the country, done with financial support from FIVB’s Volleyball Empowerment project, providing an ongoing beach volleyball coaching programme for both genders in the Pacific Island nation.
Jason Lochhead, a former professional sand player, whose coaching experience in beach volleyball included work with the likes of Phil Dalhausser and Nick Lucena, was hired in 2021 to lead New Zealand’s national teams. He and his assistants Craig Seuseu, Brad Takai and Mike Watson have put in a lot of work, the results of which have started showing.
In May 2022, New Zealand’s leading women’s pair Alice Zeimann and Shaunna Polley made their way to the top 20 in the FIVB World Ranking. In September’s Asian Beach Volleyball Championship in Thailand, Zeimann & Polley not only claimed their country’s first women’s medals in the history of the competition, but also topped the podium to claim the continental title after shutting out the likes of China’s Xia Xinyi and Lin MeiMei in the semis and Australian Olympic silver medallists Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar in the final.
It is now summertime in New Zealand and a great national beach volleyball tour, with four high-quality double-gender tournaments, has just been completed. Zeimann & Polley won the first women’s title at the G.J. Gardner Homes New Zealand Beach Tour stop held in the first half of February at Tahunanui Beach in Nelson, backed it up with two more gold medals at the third and fourth Tour events in Mount Maunganui over the last two weeks, and emerged as seasonal Tour champions. They also reached the final at the second tournament in Auckland in late February, but after a hard-fought three-set battle, they were outplayed by Olivia MacDonald and Alaina Chacon.
On the men’s side, the newly formed pairing of Thomas Reid and Jack McManaway quickly unveiled their growth and potential by winning both in Nelson and in Auckland and eventualy claimed the New Zealand Tour title. Playing with Ben O’Dea in 2022, Reid managed to win New Zealand’s first Volleyball World Beach…
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