MORE GLORY FOR AUSTRALIAN BEACH PAIR ON ASIAN TOUR
Australian beach volleyballers Nicole Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have won their third Asian title in four outings with a straight sets win in the Tuan Chau Ha Long Open in Vietnam.
Laird and del Solar beat New Zealand’s Julia Tilley and Alice Bain 21-12, 21-17 to add the Vietnam title to wins in Thailand and Indonesia.
Their only defeat during their Asian tour came at the hands of fellow Australians, Becchara Palmer and Phoebe Bell, at the Palembang Open in Indonesia one week ago.
Palmer and Bell finished the Ha Long Open in fifth position.
“The goals for us before our Asian tour were to practice being and playing a certain way, regardless of who was on the other side of the net or what pressures were around,” Laird said.
“I think for the most part we achieved that. In the moments that we didn’t, a lot of lessons have been learned.”
Laird and del Solar are the reigning World U23 Champions, and will attempt to qualify for this year’s Olympics when they contest the Asian Olympic qualifiers in Cairns in June.
In March they finished runners-up to China’s Chen Xue and Xinyi Xia at the Asian Championships at Sydney’s Manly Beach.
The Chinese pair are likely to start favourites for the Olympic qualifier, and Laird knows it will be a challenge.
“We still have a lot more growth left and a lot of lessons to learn as a team before Cairns, but we faced a few of the top teams in the past few weeks and it gives us the confidence we can keep moving in the right direction,” she said.
“We’re very excited that the tournament will be held in Cairns. It isn’t a city that has had too much domestic or international volleyball attention, so we’re keen to check it out and play in front of a home crowd.”