Team SA are on the board at the 2019 African Games after victory in their men’s doubles beach volleyball match in Rabat on Friday, writes GARY LEMKE.
The experienced left-right arm partnership of Grant Goldschmidt and Leo Williams wasted little time serving notice of their intentions when beating Ghana 21-9, 21-10 in their Pool D opener on Sale Beach.
Ghana came into the competition seeded No4, with South Africa at No11, although in truth the victory played under another cloudless Moroccan sky shouldn’t be concerned an upset. The seedings are based on ranking points gained in Africa and the South Africans haven’t played that many events to have earned a high seeding.
However, they are by no means flying under the radar. Williams was one half of the double combination which won the bronze medal four years ago in Brazzaville, while Goldschmidt competed in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Here they are as a team with medal hopes. The Capetonians have been together for the past six years and get together a couple of times a week on Camps Bay beach to hone their skills.
While top seeds Mozambique, along with hosts Morocco are considered the big favourites, South Africa are a team to be wary of. The term ‘dangerous floaters’ seems to fit them well and they head into Saturday’s games against Sudan and Sierra Leone full of confidence.
‘We served in the right areas and then put them under a lot of pressure with our defensive work. I think that’s where we won the match,’ said Goldschmidt. ‘We forced them into making errors because of our defensive. And we moved well throughout. It is always good to get things going and it feels good to have this one under the belt,’ he added.
The points system which is in play at these Games helps those teams who win easily and South Africa’s 2-0 sets win and spread of the 21-9, 21-10 victory is a good opening result for them.
As the scoreline suggests, they were never in trouble, easing out to a 6-1 lead in the first set and then 10-3 and 14-5 as they physically dominated their Ghananian opponents with their size on the court.
The second set followed a familiar pattern, accurate serving, deft touches at the net, strong blocks and dogged defence seeing South Africa stretch out to 9-3, then 13-5 and 17-8 as they worked their way across the finishing line.