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Published on July 11th, 2016 | by Denise Austin


Semi- Final joy for Academy athletes as Great Yarmouth provides happy hunting ground

Success is becoming a theme amongst North Devon’s Beach Volleyballers and the first edition of the 2016 Volleyball England Beach Tour was no different. 12 athletes made the 6 hour trek to the coastal town in Norfolk with the aim of gaining valuable ranking points to set them off on England’s 5 venue illustrious beach tour. Leading the pack was Denise Austin, former British Beach Volleyball star, and now head coach of the highly successful Academy of Beach Sports. Denise and her partner, Millie Constable, were focused on a successful weekend and with Ellie Austin and Anaya Evans in the Academy’s ranks, the likelihood of triumph was very real. The tournament began well for Academy athletes, as Austin/Constable, Austin/Evans, Mathilde Pavis and Sophie Watts and Haydn Lawson (with partner Matt Hunter) all registered opening round wins, some at the expense of Nicole Short and Olivia Webster, Lauren Short and Daniella Webb-Porto and Lauren Huggins (with partner Cat Machado) who are also Academy of Beach Sports athletes.
Short/Webb-Porto and Short/Webster had a second bite at the cherry as they played a second must win game, but went down 2-1 and 2-0 respectively and were eliminated from the competition. Huggins/Machado found form in their second game, winning 2-0, but couldn’t carry this form through and lost 2-0 in their third game, which knocked them out of the competition. Pavis/Watts couldn’t continue reproduce their opening game victory, and after 2 losses they also left the competition.

This left Austin/Constable, Austin/Evans and Lawson/Hunter in the competition, and after a successful first day, they all progressed to the finals day. It was Austin/Constable who continued the Academy’s success as they convincingly won their quarter final match 2-0, giving them a shot at the final. Austin/Evans, ranked 10, were drawn against the number 4 pair in their quarter final. In a thrilling match up which demonstrated high quality volleyball, the North Devon pair couldn’t quite get the job done, losing 2-1 and therefore knocked out of the competition. On the men’s side, Lawson/Hunter were keeping up their side of the bargain with an enthralling 2-0 victory over the number 1 pair.

The prize of a final at the opening tour event lay in wake for Austin/Constable and Lawson/Hunter. For Austin/Constable the number 1 pair stood in their way, and despite some classic beach volleyball attacking from Austin and some ridiculous defence from Constable, they couldn’t break down the top ranked pair, going down 2-0. After dispatching the number 1 pair, Lawson/Hunter were tasked with taking on the number 2 pair in their semi-final. Lawson/Hunter couldn’t reproduce their quarter final form, and fell short of the final, losing 2-0.

The success, however, did not stop there as Austin/Evans played some stunning volleyball to take the first Junior Volleyball England Beach Tour title of the season.

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