The CNMI will face the defending champion Papua New Guinea in the opening match in the beach volleyball competition in the XVI Pacific Games.
The Commonwealth, which will be represented by the father-and-son pair of Tyce and Logan Mister, will challenge the No. 1 seed PNG in the 9am kick-off game at the Apia Waterfront in Samoa on Monday. PNG won the gold medal in the XV Pacific Games at its home turf with Richard Kilarupa and Moha Mea defeating Fii’s AIsake Raratabu and Waisale Suka in straight sets in the finale. American Samoa’s Miles Muagututia and Sigalu Aitui completed the podium finish following a victory over Tonga’s Metuisela Vainikolo and Salesi Tuakoi in the bronze medal game.
PNG, which will be coached by Mea and has Richard Batari and Claude Walo as players, and the unranked CNMI are in Pool A along with No. 9 Kiribati, and No. 10 Tuvalu. Pool B has No. 2 Samoa, No. 7 Cook Islands, No. 10 Palau, and Tahiti. No. 4 Tonga leads Pool C, which will also feature No. 7 New Caledonia, and the unseeded Guam and American Samoa. Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands are both seeded No. 5 in Group D and will go up against the unranked Nauru and the debuting Australia.
Each pool will have a round-robin format and only the Top 3 from each group will advance to the second round, which will be a single-elimination affair to determine the qualifiers in the Round of 8. The quarterfinals will also implement a single elimination format and the four teams left standing will play in the semifinals in the morning of July 12. The bronze and gold medal matches are set in the afternoon.
“The games will surely be intense. I’ve seen players from these countries before and they are fierce competitors. PNG, Tahiti, and Fiji are the contenders, but there is also Australia,” said Tyce, who will be competing in the quadrennial event for the fifth time, having represented the CNMI in the Pacific Games hosted in Guam, Fiji, Samoa, and New Caledonia.
Tyce, who was with Chris Nelson in the 2015 edition of the Pacific Games, is expecting to see in Samoa some familiar faces, who may think again that he is now coaching a team.
“In New Caledonia, I was asked if I was the coach of our team. They were surprised when I told them I am still playing,” said Tyce, who is in his early 50s and will be teaming up with his 17-year-old son.
“It’s really great to be back in the Pacific Games and this time play with my son,” the older Mister added.
As for Logan, he expects to learn a lot from the veteran players in Samoa, especially from his father.
Meanwhile, the women’s beach volleyball competition has only three groups. Pool A has Vanuatu, Kiribati, and Tahiti, while the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Australia, and American Samoa are in Pool B. The host country leads Pool C and will be playing against PNG, Palau, and the Marshall Islands.