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Women’s Volleyball team has chance for Bronze while men’s team is out of the medal compeition

Women's volleybll action

Honiara, SOLOMON ISLANDS - While American Samoa’s national men’s volleyball team is now out of medal contention, the women’s team has one last chance to grab the bronze medal, after missing out on the opportunity to play for gold and silver.

This was because they suffered a total shut out at the hands of a strong and determined New Caledonia team in the semifinals last night, going down 3-0.

In the first two sets, American Samoa just could not get their game going and the lack of communication made their predicament even worse, trailing 10-1 at the start of the first set.

The girls looked stunned and disoriented making simple mistakes and New Caledonia enjoyed a comfortable lead easily winning the first set 25-12.

Things went from bad to worse for American Samoa in the second set and they were thrashed 25-9 by their opponents.

In the third set, American Samoa finally got something going and took an early lead which New Caledonia tried hard to catch.

But for once, American Samoa had found a forward momentum and they worked together to keep their lead.

Toward the end of the third set, American Samoa was in front 23-18 and were looking for the final two points to close out the set.

However, New Caledonia refused to give up and with a mighty effort, came from behind, overtook them and went on to win the set 25-23 and the game 3-0.

In a team talk after the game, Coach Mafutaga Taveuveu told his team not to think about the game again but to go home, relax and regroup and come back stronger for their next game where they will contest the bronze medal.

 “Nobody thought we would get this far,” Coach Taveuveu said. “I want you to walk out of here with your heads up. Whatever happened on the court tonight, we’ll leave it at the court. We’ll talk about what we need to do for our next game.”

Assistant Coach Melisha Purcell reminded the team that they may have missed out on the chance to play for gold or silver.

 “We still have a medal to play for,” the assistant coach pointed out. “I don’t want you to come tomorrow and think that the bronze medal does not matter because it does matter. So I want you to get some rest, rethink and reprocess the mistakes we did tonight because everybody made a mistake. So I don’t want any finger-pointing tonight.”

In an interview with Coach Taveuveu, he told Samoa News that they did not follow the game plan they had agreed on and everything went downhill from there.

 “New Caledonia is one of the best teams in this competition,” Taveuveu stated. “And they took advantage of the many unforced errors we made because we didn’t execute our game plan. But we still have the chance to go home with the bronze medal, so we’ll go home and rest, learn from our mistakes and we’ll come back stronger tomorrow.”

New Caledonia and Tahiti will now play for gold and silver, while American Samoa will face off with Fiji for the bronze medal.

The men’s volleyball team on the other hand lost in their last game yesterday against Fiji and are now placed sixth in the men’s volleyball competition and bowed out of medal contention by losing to Samoa in three straight sets.

The first two sets were hotly contested with powerful aerial battles between the spikers of the Samoa – Am Samoa teams.

The points went head to head in the first two sets until it was 23-all, then Samoa edged ahead winning the next two points to take both sets 25-23.

In the final points, American Samoa could not retain the intensity of their aerial attacks and place moves, which Samoa quickly capitalized on, as they widened their lead.

As a result, they finished the game with a 25-13 win completing the game in three straight sets to book their place in the semifinals. 

American Samoa Coach Reno Amisone in an interview told Samoa News that his team had gone down fighting but a lack of communication and their mental preparation was found wanting.

The American Samoa national men's volleyball team to the 2023 Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands with Head Coach Reno Amisone (far right) and Assistant Coach Joshua Ma'alona. [photo: Asi A. Fa'asau]

 “They fought hard in the first two sets and until the points drew at 23-all, but they were unlucky and simple mistakes gave Samoa the next two points they needed to win the sets,” Amisone said. “In the third set, I guess the mental stress was too much and they just could not find their game. But they gave their all, and that’s the important thing.”

Amisone, a former national player, expressed his concerns about the need to improve the standard of the game in the Territory, which will improve the ranking in the Oceania region.

American Samoa national men’s volleyball team during the quarterfinals in the 2023 Pacific Games in Solomon Islands. [photo: Asi A. Fa’asau]

 “When I was playing back in the 1970s to the early 1980s, American Samoa was the powerhouse of volleyball in the Pacific,” Amisone recalled. “I was a member of the team that won the last gold medal for American Samoa in the 1983 South Pacific Games in Apia. 

 “It’s been 40 years since we last won gold in volleyball, and I guess we’ll have to wait until the next Games for a chance to make that a reality. In the meantime, the American Samoa Volleyball Association (ASVA) should really step up their efforts to lift the standard of the game and performance of our players to what it used to be.”

In the other quarterfinals, Tahiti defeated host nation Solomon Islands in a commanding 3-0 victory, New Caledonia shut out Fiji in a decisive 3-0 win, and PNG overpowered Tonga also in a 3-0 victory.

Samoa, Tahiti, PNG and New Caledonia advanced to the semifinals.

This Pacific Games report is brought to you by the generous sponsorship of Paramount Builders, Inc. and ASNOC.