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McHugh/Burnett and Bell/Fejes cement their rankings with Australian Beach Volleyball Tour victories

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Gold Coast 2018 gold medallist Chris McHugh and new partner Paul Burnett have kickstarted their Birmingham campaign with victory at the Cobram Barooga Classic.

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medallist and Tokyo Olympian Chris McHugh and new partner Paul Burnett have won the first 2022 Australian Beach Volleyball Tour (ABVT) event, winning gold in straight sets at the Cobram Barooga Classic.

McHugh recently teamed up with Burnett after his Gold Coast gold medal winning partner Damien Schumann retired, however it’s been an instant connection, with the pair winning their first ever tournament together – the 2021 Asian Senior Beach Volleyball Championships in November last year.

While McHugh has a few ABVT titles under his belt, today’s victory was Burnett’s first time on the top step of the podium.

The pair faced up-and-coming team Izac Carracher and Mark Nicolaidis who had an exceptional tournament, winning every match in straight sets on their way to the gold-medal match.

However the experience of McHugh / Burnett proved too strong in the final, with the top ranked team winning 2-0 (21-14, 21-9).

McHugh and Burnett said they were really happy to take the win on Thompsons Beach, but also thanked their competitors for a great tournament.

“The gold feels a lot better than coming second or third,” Burnett laughed after the match.

“I’m really happy with the result, it was a tough weekend, we had a lot of close games so to finish on a high note with a strong performance is a great way to end the weekend.”

“It’s always a great event in Cobram, it’s my favourite event to come to,” McHugh said,

“I’m just super happy for Paul, it’s his first National Tour event win and I’m sure the first of many.

“Mark and Izac really brought their A-game today, they’ve had a phenomenal weekend, and I have no doubt we’ll see them in a lot more Sunday finals at the events to come.”

In the earlier bronze-medal match it was the team of Sam Halley and Matt Reeves who got the win over Tom Hodges and Max Guehrer in an epic three-set battle (21-19, 15-21, 15-10).

In the Women’s event, Phoebe Bell and Stefanie Fejes sailed through their preliminary matches without dropping a set.

However, with opponents Alisha Stevens and Caitlin Bettenay also undefeated, the gold medal match was set to be a tough battle from the outset.

Underdogs Stevens and Bettenay came out firing, taking an early lead to win the first set 21-14.

However, Bell and Fejes fought back in the second set to close the gap, edging just in front to secure the second set 21-19.

The third set could have been anyone’s game, but Bell and Fejes dug deep in 30+ degree heat to win the third set by five points, 15-10.

Cobram ABVT was the first tournament Bell and Fejes have played together, and they said it was their shared values that allowed them to gel on the court and take the win.

“We came together last minute but we’ve just been on the same page about our game style and our on-court values. We stuck together as a team today and I’m really proud of our performance today and the result,” Bell said.

“It was a really good game of volleyball we had against Caitlin and Alisha,” Fejes added.

“We were getting into our style and feeling each other out on the court and getting into our rhythm and I really enjoyed playing with Phoebe.”

In the earlier bronze medal match, Sarah Burton and Michela Strati won in straight sets against Jana Milutinovic and Kayla Mears (17-21, 13-21).

 

With thanks Australian Beach Volleyball Tour.

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