Vanuatu beach volley

Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko (right) with Joshua Toares and Donny Aru. Photo: Vanuatu Beach Volleyball

The first week of the XVI Pacific Games in Samoa ended with a much-celebrated Gold medal for the Vanuatu Beach Volleyball Women’s team as they secured a straight sets win over Tahiti 21-12, 21-18 at the Apia Waterfront venue.

The number one ranking of the current Oceania Champions Miller Pata and Sherysyn Toko proved a good predictor as they finished the week winning all their matches in straight sets, underlining their good record at Pacific Games level having previously won Bronze (2007), Gold (2011) and Silver (2015).

The Vanuatu Volleyball Federation was pleased with the performances from both its Women’s and Men’s teams which participated in the 2019 Pacific Games.

The Men’s team of Joshua Toares and Donny Aru bowed out in the Round of 12, as their initial good progress in the pool rounds was halted in their final two matches losing to the eventual Gold and Silver medallists Australia and Tahiti respectively. While the pair were disappointed with their result, the continuing development of the men’s program is strong.

For the women, the Pacific Games success added to what has been a solid run of performances so far this year, competing in Asian Volleyball Confederation, FIVB and other tournaments across Asia and Australia, with top five placings in six of nine events.

Immediately following the Pacific Games title win, Pata and Toko departed for Fiji where they will spend this week training before heading to Japan to participate in an FIVB Olympic Test event beginning 24 July.

The team will need to make the final eight in Tokyo in a pre-tournament qualifying competition (July 21) to make it into the main draw.

This begins their 12-month path to Tokyo 2020 qualification – a major goal for veteran player and senior member of the team Miller Pata who announced on Friday that Samoa was her last Pacific Games and declared she will finish her playing career next year after a tilt at the Olympics.

It is a busy schedule ahead of this Women’s team with the Japan competition next week, an AVC tournament in Taipei in August, the ANOC Beach Games in Qatar in October and the big conclusion to the year – the Continental Cup and Oceania Olympic Qualifier event in Fiji in December.

With the support of VVFs new national team sponsor Titan FX, Vanuatu will endeavour to build success in these and many other ranking tournaments in the next year with a firm focus on making it to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games.

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