Heat takes its toll on Volleyroos in Algeria

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AUSTRALIA FIGHTS HARD IN HEAT OF ALGERIA

Australian women’s volleyball coach, Mark Barnard, believes fatigue and extreme heat has contributed to his team’s 3-0 loss to Kenya in the women’s Grand Prix in Algeria this morning.

The Australians had to back up after a tough five-set loss to Algeria which finished after midnight, and after a close first set faded to lose in straight sets 25-20, 25-16, 25-15.

“We hung with them very well in the first set, it’s just that after that 1am finish against Algeria last night they were a little bit tired,” Barnard said.

“We have to get over that, that’s the way it is. I thought we started with good energy but then wore a bit.

“It was unbelievably hot in there, that was a factor for us – something we have to control better because we play at the same time against Mexico tomorrow.”

The Australians are still chasing their first Grand Prix win, and face their best chance when they take on Mexico early Monday morning, AEST.

Mexico posted its first Grand Prix win, against Algeria, in an energy-sapping five set clash this morning.

Australian captain, Shae Sloane, said her team will appreciate playing the shorter Mexican side after finding the tall Kenyans a challenge.

“They were just able to terminate a lot of ball, unfortunately for us,” she said.

“We were serving well and putting pressure on them, but they are tall and were getting up and were able to hit the ball really hard and get it in.”

Georgina Rowe was the leading point scorer for Australia, with seven, while Mercy Moim finished with 19 points for Kenya.

The Australian team will head straight home to Canberra after Monday’s match, to prepare for next weekend’s Grand Prix finals at the AIS.

It’s expected Colombia, Peru and three-time Olympic champions, Cuba, will all qualify for the finals.

The equation is simple: Volleyroos must win on Sunday

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TIME FOR THE VOLLEYROOS TO STEP UP, SAYS CAPTAIN EDGAR

Australian volleyball captain Tom Edgar called for his team to be more critical of its performances after it lost 3-1 to Serbia in their World League match in Melbourne.

Australia needed a win against the world number eight team to guarantee it stays in group one of World League next year, but could not overcome a determined but inexperienced Serbia.

The Australians have one last chance to secure their place in world volleyball’s top league next year, after Russia posted a shock 3-1 win over Iran in Tehran overnight.

It was Russia’s first win in World League this year, and puts them ahead of Australia, with the bottom team relegated to group two next year.

The Volleyroos were at their best in a gripping third set against Serbia, but having worked hard to get back into the match, gave up the fourth set and the match with a string of unforced errors, 22-25, 21-25, 31-29, 18-25.

“I’m disappointed,” Edgar said.

“To be honest I’m a little bit lost for words. We have to find something more within ourselves; it’s not about what opponent we’re playing.

“Serbia did play well in patches, but we just got in a rut where we were dropping points and then dropping more points and then letting them have a run.”

Edgar says his team needs to be start playing better if it is to challenge the best teams in the world.

“We really have to learn quickly how to kill a team. I thought we had a lot of opportunities in this game,” he said.

“It’s getting to the stage where we need to be a little bit more critical of ourselves and of each other, and make sure we’re still pushing.

“Not in a negative way, but make sure we’re building and there’s some constructive criticism going on because we need to make the next step, not hover between two levels.”

Coach Roberto Santilli was frustrated Serbia was able to win several points from a move his team had practiced for.

“We were prepared for the tip, but sometimes we tried to do something which we are not able to do,” he said.

“We prepared everything, but we didn’t do well enough. That is why I’m disappointed because we can lose against a team like this, but you should not lose when you are prepared for something.”

Edgar finished as the leading point scorer for Australia with 28 points, including a dominant third set where he led his team back into the match.

Australia takes on Serbia again in its final match of the 2015 World League in Melbourne on Sunday afternoon.

So close for Bawden and Clancy

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HEARTBREAK FOR BRAVE BAWDEN AND CLANCY AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

The inspiring run of Australian beach volleyballers Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy has ended in heartbreak at the World Championships, with the duo twice getting within one point of a top four finish.

Bawden and Clancy rode the full roller coaster of emotions on an absorbing Thursday in The Hague, first seeing off the Championship top seeds and hometown favourites over three thrilling sets, and then holding match point on two occasions before eventually succumbing to a team from Brazil in the quarter finals.

“I’m really proud of what we put out there,” an emotional Clancy said after the quarter final.

“I know this is only going to make us stronger.”

Their win over Dutch pair, Marleen Van Iersel and Madelein Meppelink, was career defining.

Not only did they have to beat the team ranked number one at the World Championships, they had to withstand the pressure of a nail-biting third set in front of capacity orange-clad crowd who all wanted the Australians beaten.

While the Brazilians were ranked lower than the Australians, no-one actually believed it was a ranking that reflected their true world standing.

Which is why the 21-15 scoreline in Bawden and Clancy’s favour in the first set surprised many; and why the 21-16 turnaround in the second made sense.

But the strength and resilience that has been building in the Australian pair over three years came to the fore in the third set.

Twice the Australians had close points overturned, both times after Clancy spikes too ferocious to be seen by the naked eye.

Despite the setbacks, the Australians fought on, taking a match point at 14-13, then again at 15-14, then saved one at 15-16 before finally buckling at 16-18.

“It’s really disappointing, it was very tight at the end,” Bawden said.

“T and I have really battled some massive thingst his week, fought hard  and stuck together. We’re getting stronger all the time, we know this is going to contribute to more wins in the future.”

OLYMPICS

The Adelaide-based pair is perfectly placed for an assault on the Rio Olympics next year.

They came together after the London Olympics, matching the experience and calmness of two-time Olympian Louise Bawden with the undoubted natural talents and energy of 20-year-old Taliqua Clancy.

They tasted immediate success on the domestic circuit, enjoyed strong results in Asia, and were ‘thereabouts’ on their first season on the World Tour.

Year two of mixing it with the world’s best was very much a year of consolidation for the Australians, but 2015 has been the year they have made their mark.

Bawden and Clancy have strung together a series of top ten finishes, including a bronze medal in Croatia, fifths in Norway and China, and a ninth in Moscow.

The success has pushed them to seven on the world tour rankings. In April next year the top 15 ranked teams will gain automatic qualification for the Rio Olympics.

Bawden had her first taste of the Olympics as a 19-year-old at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as a member of the women’s indoor volleyball team.

Twelve years later she was once again marching in an Olympic ceremony, this time with beach volleyball partner Becchara Palmer.

The Games didn’t go as she hoped, and when Palmer announced her retirement it left her without a playing partner but with a burning desire to correct the record.

Enter Taliqua Clancy, a gangly, shy Queenslander who had been making her mark as Australia’s first Indigenous beach volleyballer to grace the national stage.

If there were concerns the pressure being placed on Clancy would prove too much, she quickly put them to rest the only way she knew how – by leaping, spiking, diving, and blocking her way around Australia’s best known beaches.

Her rise has been meteoric – Sydney 2000 gold medalist Kerri Pottharst recently described her as the best beach volleyballer she has ever seen.

And as results are now showing, Pottharst is a good judge of talent.

WOMEN

BEACH

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