BPT Elite 16 Torquay Women - AUSvsUSA-13

Betsi Flint & Julia Scoles during their semifinal

Kelly Cheng and Betsi Flint, who were teammates just a few weeks ago, will play against each other in an all-American women’s final at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Torquay Elite16 event on Saturday. The second-seeded pairing of Sara Hughes and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Kelly Cheng and the Beach Pro Tour rookie team of Betsi Flint and Julia Scoles, seeded fifth, will lock horns for the trophy at 21:00 local time (10:00 UTC).

· Watch the matches at the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour Elite16 event in Torquay live on Volleyball TV.

The first whistle for the bronze medal match between another American pair, third-seeded Taryn Kloth and Kristen Nuss, and top-seeded Australians Taliqua Clancy and Mariafe Artacho Del Solar will blow two hours earlier, at 19:00 (08:00). The home team, Tokyo Olympic silver medallists, will be aiming for their second Elite16 bronze, after Gstaad. They also have two medals at the Challenge level, an Espinho gold and a Kusadasi silver. Kloth and Nuss, on the other hand, are in their first Elite16 final four. They have previously claimed two Tour golds, one at the Kusadasi Challenge and one at the Coolangatta Futures in Australia.

BPT Elite 16 Torquay Women - USAvsUSA-5-2

Triumphant Kelly Cheng

In an all-American semifinal, Hughes and Cheng mastered a 2-0 (21-18, 21-15) shutout of Kloth and Nuss to make it to their second Torquay final. Hughes produced the match high of 19 points, all in spikes. Hughes and Cheng won last week’s Challenge tournament, their first Beach Pro Tour event after the two reunited as a team. Kloth and Nuss are still in contention for their first Elite16 podium.

The first set of the semifinal was very competitive, with frequent switches in the lead. The first time the gap went beyond two points was at 19-16 Hughes and Cheng’s way. Moments later, Hughes found an empty spot in the sand on the other side of the net to close the set at 21-18. The first half of the second set was also quite tight until 10-10. A perfectly-placed ace by Cheng crowned a series of four points that put her team at a 14-10 lead, and then they just cruised on to take the set and the match at 21-15 on a joust win by Hughes.

Nuss & Kloth vs Hughes & Cheng 0-2 (19-21, 15-21): match highlights

“That was so amazing!” Hughes exclaimed after the match. “Credit to Kelly – she was absolutely incredible! That’s an amazing USA team right there, so we knew we had to play our best to beat them, and we are so happy to be in another final here, in Australia.”

“I think there are lots of areas for improvement, which is exciting for us. I think we have a really high ceiling,” added Cheng. “We are going to enjoy this victory for now, we’re going to go back to the drawing board and work our butts off tomorrow.”

Earlier on Friday, Hughes and Cheng hammered out a 2-0 (21-15, 21-9) shutout of Thailand’s Worapeerachayakorn Kongphopsarutawadee and Taravadee Naraphornrapat, with the help of 10 aces (seven from Hughes, three from Cheng), to progress to the semifinals. Kloth and Nuss won their quarterfinal against China’s Xia Xinyi and Lin MeiMei by 2-0 (25-23, 21-16).

BPT Elite 16 Torquay Women - USAvsUSA-2

Sara Hughes tips the ball over Taryn Kloth’s block

At their first tournament together, Flint and Scoles advanced to the final after upsetting home favourites Clancy and Mariafe in the second semifinal. Deep into the overtime of the second set, they celebrated a 2-0 (21-15, 27-25) victory. Scoles was the best scorer of the match on 22 points, including three blocks, while Flint aced four times towards a 14-point total.

After the early exchanges, Flint and Scoles scored two in a row for 5-3 and took the lead for good. They dominated on the court to extend the gap to seven points at 19-12. Flint tipped the ball to bring in set point at 20-13. Three rallies down the road, another tip by Flint on two finished the set at 21-15. The Americans started building up their second set lead earlier into the set and already had a six-point advantage at 12-6. However, it was time for the Aussies to fight back and they managed to draw level at 13-13. The margin never went beyond a point again until the very end of the match. Flint and Scoles failed to convert the first two match points, but then denied three set points for Clancy and Mariafe before stepping in front again. The fourth and the fifth match points did not produce a win, but on the sixth, Flint aced for a 27-25 victory.

Clancy & Mariafe vs Flint & Scoles 0-2 (15-21, 25-27): match highlights

“We are playing together for the first time. It’s been so much fun and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. And we had an awesome Australian crowd,” Flint said after the game. “Tomorrow’s match is going to take a lot of grit and togetherness, and we are ready to fight.”

“Honestly, Betsi and I never doubted it for one second,” Scoles added. “She is just such an inspiration to me – as a mother, and as a player, and how incredible she’s been as a leader – that I am just so thankful to be here in this moment.”

BPT Elite 16 Torquay Women - AUSvsUSA-28

Julia Scoles against Mariafe Artacho Del Solar above the net

In the quarterfinals, Flint and Scoles knocked out Polish qualifiers Jagoda Gruszczynska and Aleksandra Wachowicz by an emphatic 2-0 (21-17, 21-7), while Clancy and Mariafe outplayed another team from the qualifiers, Slovenia’s Tjasa Kotnik and Tajda Lovsin, on the way to a 2-0 (21-12, 21-18) victory. In that match, Clancy impressed with 26 points, including six blocks and an ace.