Lucerne, Switzerland, May 12, 2016 – Vanuatu youngsters Loti Joe and Sherysyn Toko started their U21 World Championships campaign on Thursday with a smooth 2-0 (21-14, 21-11) win over Costa Rica’s Irene Gomez and Susan Alpizar Campos.
But the girls were not completely satisfied about their first FIVB beach volleyball match. “We did play well, but somehow we just made some mistakes”, said 19-year old Joe. “In serving for example. But in the end we won the match and it’s a good start.”
Newcomers Joe and Toko are in good company in Lucerne. Joyce Joshua (29), who plays for Vanuatu on the World Tour, is coaching the young pair. Joshua: “I have a knee injury at the moment, so I took up coaching these two for the moment. This is my first trip with them. I never coached before, but surely I can support them in any way.”
Vanuatu currently has four women’s players on the World Tour; Joshua and Henriette Iatika and Linline Matuautu and Miller Pata, who are competing at the FIVB Antalya Open to try and qualify for the Olympics.
Beach volleyball has really skyrocketed in Vanuatu over the last few years with the help of Australian coach Lauren McLeod. At the past two World Championships Vanuatu women impressed everyone with a 9th (Stare Jablonki, 2013) and 17th place (The Hague, 2015) finish.
That being said, soccer is still the favourite of Vanuatu sports fans, says Joshua. “But as for performances and results we’re the best sports team of the country.”
McLeod has taken on a new job as coach for Australia and now the Vanuatu teams have a new trainer: New Zealand’s World Tour player Jason Lochhead.
“We practice every day of the week”, Joshua says. “Previously it was just the four of us, but now we have Joe and Toko. We help them to the next level. So when we retire there are these girls to replace us.”
For the past few days Joe and Toko have been soaking up international beach volleyball. Joe: “The field is very strong. We want to try our best to play like them and to win.”
Travelling from tropical Vanuatu to Switzerland they were not only challenged by the cold and rainy weather, there were some other problems they had to take care of. Toko had to visit a Swiss hospital for a medical problem.
“I had a boil on my leg, back home in Vanuatu. I cleaned it, and I thought it was ok, but it came back here in Switzerland. During practice I got cramps in my leg and they took me to the hospital and discovered the boil was back. They cut it open and cleaned it. Now I am feeling a lot better and it’s not bothering me any more when I am playing.”Quick linksFIVB Beach Volleyball U21 World Championships Lucerne 2016Men - Qualification resultsWomen - Qualification resultsMen - Main draw resultsWomen - Main draw results