Duo bounces back with gold
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Australia's dynamic duo of Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho del Solar have proved once again they have found the winning formula.
The pair have scored their fourth gold medal on the FIVB World Tour of Beach Volleyball in Portugal at the Espinho Open on Saturday.
The gold medal final between Australia and Brazil was the only match of the day that finished in straight sets.
After a solid early lead for the Brazilians in the first set, Clancy and Artacho del Solar fought their way back to a 19-17 lead. The Brazilians tied it at 19-19, before the Aussies reached the first set point.
The two sides traded set points before a fantastic rally featuring two great saves by Artacho del Solar finished with a monster block by Clancy for the set.
The second set went level until two consecutive precision-placed aces by Clancy gave the Australians a 13-10 lead.
This was a blow from which the South Americans never managed to recover. For the winning point, Clancy attacked mercilessly on second touch to close the match at 2-0 (23-21, 21-17).
The Australians were proud of their performance to take out the gold medal.
"We knew that we had to bring out our A game,” Artacho del Solar said.
"Maria and Carol are an extremely good team, so we really knew we had to fight and battle. We stayed strong together and patient and kept our trust that we could deliver.”
Clancy said they were eager to re-find their form that was missing in Poland.
"We had a disappointing last week at Warsaw,” she said.
"We didn't like the way that we played, so it was important to get back our belief and trust in our game. We kept delivering and it was fun.”
This is their biggest win since combining less than a year ago, having won three golds as well as a Commonwealth Games silver on the Gold Coast in April after facing the world number-one Canada team in the gold medal match.
Clancy and Artacho del Solar have now won more gold medals on the World Tour than any other combination in Australian beach volleyball history.
They next head to the grand slam of world beach volleyball next weekend in Gstaad, well placed as one of the world's top 10 teams.
Volleyball Australia appointed new coach Kirk Pitman three months ago to take over coaching the pair within the Beach Volleyroos Program led by Australians Victor Anfiloff and Simon Naismith to prepare the team for Tokyo.