Stuart Whitaker is a sports reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times and a general reporter for the Bay News.

Beach volleyball: Kiwis secure Asian silver success

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Tauranga's Emily Johnston has helped New Zealand qualify for the Under-19 World Beach Volleyball Championships. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga's Emily Johnston has helped New Zealand qualify for the Under-19 World Beach Volleyball Championships. Photo / George Novak

Tauranga's Emily Johnston and playing partner Alice Zeimann (Christchurch) have won silver at the Under-19 Asian Beach Volleyball Championships in Laos.

Former Bethlehem College student Johnston and Zeimann went into the tournament as New Zealand's number one pairing and progressed through pool play and three rounds of knockout matches without dropping a set, beating teams from Thailand, Kazakhstan and Laos.

In the final they met Thailand's top combination of Khongchaloem and Kawfong, who had defeated Japan and China to advance to the final.

The first set of the final was a tight contest with Thailand edging out a small lead and holding on to take the set 21-17.

The second set was more of a one-sided affair with Thailand asserting their dominance and cruising comfortably to victory 21-11, and the match 2-0.

"New Zealand started the final very well and led for the first half of the first set," said New Zealand junior women's coach Fiona Scrimshaw.

"Then the Thai team came back using excellent ball control to play shots that were too classy in the end. Alice and Emily looked very composed on court, and benefited from the international experience that they have both had."

This result gives New Zealand a spot at the Under-19 World Championships that will be held in Cyprus from July 26-31.

The championships feature the top 32 teams in the world.

New Zealand's best ever result at the under-19 worlds came in 2007 when Rachael Morgan and Hannah Croad finished ninth.

Zeimann and Johnston have also put their names into the mix for selection for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where beach volleyball will feature for the first time.

Both players are already competing on the New Zealand national tour and registering top-eight results, now this international experience will make them a tough team to beat this summer.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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