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Northern Marianas and Australia keep Olympic dream alive

posted Mar 19, 2011, 8:40 PM by NMI Volleyball

Melody Matson of Northern Marianas Island pops up a serve in Pool A of the AVC Continental Beach Volleyball Cup golden set against Papua New Guinea

Saipan, Northern Marianas Island, March 7, 2011 – The Northern Marianas duo of Melody Matson and Amanda Clarkson defeated Papua New Guinea's Hazel Ruga and Dianne John in the golden set in Pool A of the AVC Continental Beach Volleyball Cup Sub Zonal tournament on Sunday to book their place in the next phase of the London 2012 Olympic Games qualifying tournament along with Australia who topped the standings.

Playing on home ground, Northern Marianas were tied with Papua New Guinea on six wins apiece after three days of competition, resulting in a tie-breaking golden set. Matson and Clarkson duly fought off the challenge of Moia and Ruga, winning 15-12 to advance.

Australia went undefeated in the three-day tournament to top the four-team field. They defeated Guam – who had only Meagan Crisostomo and Kristi Hammond competing in the women's division – and Northern Marianas, before whitewashing Papua New Guinea on the last day of the event. Northern Marianas beat Papua New Guinea (3-2) and Guam (4-0).

"Even though the facilities do not accommodate large grandstands, it was still a fantastic atmosphere for beach volleyball," Oceania Zonal Volleyball Federation president Chris Schacht said. "Saipan is a beautiful island with very friendly people and the event was well organised, especially for a first-time host."

The Northern Marianas Islands Volleyball Association in coordination with the AVC and FIVB organised the tournament. Other major supporters and sponsors included the Marianas Visitors Authority, PIC, Mikasa, and Delta Airlines.