Olympians Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy have triumphed in the all-Australian battle to kick off the 2017 Beach Volleyball World Championships in Vienna, Austria.
Bawden and Clancy started tentatively against fellow Helloworld Travel Volleyroos, Nicole Laird and Jessyka Ngauamo, losing the first set 19-21 before fighting back to take the next two sets 22-20, 15-7.
“It was a little bit windy, and we were a little bit nervous and not executing the way we would want to,” Bawden, a three-time Olympian, said.
‘It’s a different feeling and it’s difficult, because those barriers you have to your opponents aren’t the same. So that was tough, because we’d like to see these girls do really well in this tournament too.”
Bawden played several tournaments with Laird, who partnered Mariafe Artacho del Solar at the Rio Olympics, during the Australian summer while Clancy recovered from injury.
But she said it didn’t give her any advantage for Friday’s match.
“There are a few cues that maybe you can pick up on, but it’s exactly the same for her as well,” she said.
The major turning point for the more experienced Australians was the serving consistency of Clancy after a scrappy start.
“I wasn’t feeling the rhythm with my jump serve and generating the ball speed that I needed,” Clancy said.
“So I just stuck at that, and I was lucky towards the end that the wind did pick up, so I thought that was a license to throw it up and really hit it.”
Also in the Australians’ group are experienced American pair, April Ross and Lauren Fendrick, and China’s Chen Xue, a 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, and Xinxin Wang.
The Australian men’s pair of Damien Schumann and Chris McHugh will begin their 2017 World Championship campaign on Saturday, when they take on Russia’s Oley Stoyanovskiy and Artem Yarzutkin, gold medallists at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.
Also in their group are the 2016 Olympic silver medallists, Paolo Nicolai and Daniele Lupo, and Sierra Leone’s Patrick Lombi and Abu Bakarr Kamara.