For the second event of the same sex pairs beach volleyball tour, the East strand of Portrush was used again. Despite the stony beach causing constant disruption to the players, the tournament has a great display of volleyball talent for men and women, and from both sides of the border.
2 teams from VAI made the long trip from Dublin the same day to come and compete against some of NI’s fines beach players. Benny O’Regan and Johnny Whitty teamed up, with Piotr Szulc and Sergei Rodin making up the 2nd pairing. With 7 teams in the mens event, and 3 in the womens event, group stages were used to see who would progress to the semi finals.
In the mens section, competition was tight across the board. As expected, the 2 blaze teams of Workman/Mcknight and Scott/park, both won their games in their groups and both progressed as group winners. Workman/Mcknight had won the previous event, and hoped to continue the good from the had been showing. Georgi Vasilev and Jordan Stanev paired up for this their 2nd event of the year. This new pairing on the tour are improving with every game, but unfortunately the more experienced players in their group defeated this pairing, and they were put out of the competition.
The 2 irish teams were always a worrying point for the home pairs. Scott/Park managed to defeat O’Regan/Whitty in their first game 2-1 in a tight encounter. O’Regan/Whitty went on to beat Greenlee/Wright 2-0 to progress as the group runners up.
The other group also saw the Irish pair of Szulz/Rodin lose rather heavily 21-6, 21-6 to Workman/Mcknight, but still progressed to the semi final stage as group runners up after defeating young Ballymoney players Matt Scott and Callium Currie 2-0.
The semi finals saw top seeds Workman/Mcknight take on the Irish top seeds O’Regan Whitty and in the other game, Scott/Park took on Szulc/Rodin.
In the first semi final, Workman/Mcknight seamed unsettled by the Irish pair, and lost the frist set 21-17. They managed to regroup for the second set and win 21-19, but in the third set, a run of 4 errors proved to big a deficit, and were defeated by the Irish pair 2-1.
Scott/Park took on Szulc/Rodin in the second semi final. The fact that Scott/park played together in last years events showed throughout this game, with the pair being very well organised. After winning the first set 21-15, they continued their strong performance to take the 2nd 21-13 and progress to the Final.
Workman/Mcknight then took on the VAI pair of Szulc/Rodin in the 3rd/4th place playoff, which after their disappointing performance in the semi final, were glad to win the single set match.
The mens final saw a north vs south battle. Scott/Park had defeated O’Regan/Whitty in the group stages, but the VIA team seemed to have woken up for the final, after their 4 hour trip to reach the event. The VAI pair delivered a devastating blow to the Ballymoney pair, when after several runs of points on their serve, gave the Ni team a 21-6 thrashing. Scott/Park regrouped, and hoped to produce a better performance. Wanting to win this tournament both for themselves, and to defeat one of the VAI’s top pairs, they went out all guns ‘blazing’ and delivered an identical score line to that of the first set, but this time in their favour. All down to the 3rd set to 15, and after both teams traded points until mid set, the Ballymoney boys produced some excellent plays to prevent the VAI pair siding out, and took the set 15-9, and winning the competition.
In the womens section, there was an unfortunately low turnout, but the 4 teams played off in a round robin to see who would play who in the final, and who would play for 3rd place. In the early part of the tournament, Mackiewicz/Lewinska looked to be the team to beat, as they seen off all the oppositions 2-0. Cunningham/Mihneva also looked strong and beat the other contenders Cyran/Bak and Goodliffe/Kirkpatrick 2-0 to be the ones to play off for the title against Mackiewicz/Lewinska.
The 3rd place honours went to Cyran/Bak by the narrowest of margins after a hard fought match from the young Ballymoney players.
The final match between Mackiewicz/Lewinska and Cunningham/Mihneva also proved to be a good match, but as predicted from the early stages, Mackiewicz/Lewinska completed the victory 2-0 to take the NIVA open crown.
The next tournament will take place on sat 16th July at Portadown beach pad. After this, will mark the half way stage, giving a better incite of the teams to watch and beat.