Top seeds secure on hard fought opening day in Shepparton

The top seeds in both the men’s and women’s competition have made it through a tough opening day of the FIVB World Tour event in Shepparton, along with teams from Germany, USA, Canada and New Zealand.

Host nation Australia has three teams in semi-final action on Sunday, while New Zealand and Japan, two other well-represented nations in Shepparton, have come unstuck in the hot conditions.

Top women’s seed, Australia’s Nicole Laird and Phoebe Bell, looked particularly impressive in disposing of two Japanese teams, Take and Wada, and then Suzuki and Ishii, in straight sets to book their place in Sunday’s semi-finals.

By contrast, the top men’s seed, Australia’s Chris McHugh and Damien Schumann, had to work hard in their quarter final against New Zealand’s Rene Kapa and Morgan Seymour, before winning 21-16, 16-21, 15-10.

Canada’s Julie Gordon and Camille Saxton also looked impressive, winning both their matches comfortably, but it was a hard day on the sand for Germany’s Leonie Kortzinger and Sandra Seyfferth.

They are through to Sunday’s semi-finals, but had to endure two tough three-set matches in the blazing sun to earn their ticket.

Fellow Germans Kim Behrens and Anni Schumacher are also into the semi-finals, but had to fend off a strong quarter final challenge from Australia’s Britt Kendall and Mariafe Artacho del Solar 18-21, 21-15, 16-14.

In the men’s draw, joining McHugh and Schumann in Sunday action will be fellow Australians, Cole Durant and Zachery Schubert, who overcame a first round scare from American veterans David McKenzie and Ed Ratledge 21-19, 13-21, 15-12 before beating Austria’s Felix Friedl and Lucas Skrabal in the quarters.

Americans Adam Roberts and Martin Lorenz also survived an opening round 3-setter, beating Germany’s Max-Jonas Karpa and Milan Sievers 22-24, 21-16, 15-11, before comfortably winning their quarter final against Japan’s Katsuhiro Shiratori and Takumi Takahashi.

The final link in the men’s semi-final chain will be the tall New Zealand brothers, Ben and Sam O’Dea, who survived a potentially dangerous quarter-final clash with fellow New Zealanders Mike Watson and Tom Hartles 21-19, 21-9.