USA SNARE FIRST EVER FOUR NATIONS TITLE
Americans Sarah Sponcil and Torrey van Winden have staged an epic fightback to win the inaugural Four Nations beach volleyball challenge at Sydney’s Manly Beach.
Down one set and trailing 11-7 to Brazil in the second, the Americans clawed their way back in the rain to level the match, before holding their nerve to take the third set and the gold medal, 15-13.
Earlier Australia’s Brittany Kendall and Shelby Maher won bronze, beating Japan 2-0.
The Four Nations is an event for international women’s U21 teams, with all four teams competing at Manly this week heading to the U21 World Championships later this year.
Sponcil and van Torren were the dominant team of the tournament, remaining undefeated in just their second event together.
But van Torren said the final against Brazil’s Ana Silva Ramos and Victoria Lopes Pereira Tosta was a tough struggle.
“It was going back and forth all match, so I thought if we could get a run of maybe two points I had a lot of confidence we could do it,” van Winden said.
“We came into this event not knowing what the other teams were going to look like, but we knew they were really strong countries.
“We were stoked to be able to get a look at them before the World Championships.”
Australia’s Kendall and Maher said there was plenty of room for improvement in their game.
“I think we played a solid tournament, but we had some ups and downs and there are some things we’ve got to work on when we go back home to Adelaide,” Kendall said.
“We are so stoked to have qualified for the World Championships. We played well in the qualifiers and earned our spot, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
The final event at Manly’s Volleyfest will be the Asian Championships, beginning Friday.
The Australian challenge will be led by HelloWorld Volleyroos Damien Schumann and Josh Court in the men, and Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar in the Women's.