Australia's Italian ready to take on Italy
Australian volleyball coach Roberto Santilli believes the Volleyroos have a great opportunity to beat Italy in the opening round of the World League in Adelaide this weekend.
He should know, given his long association with volleyball in Italy, and the knowledge he has built up on the Australians since taking over as coach at the start of this year.
“Of course I’m excited,” Santilli said.
“This is the start of a new adventure with Australia, and because the team and the players feel that the moment is coming.
“And of course we are playing against Italy, so of course I should be excited, 100 per cent.”
Italy arrived in Australia without several of their big name players, but Santilli said they will still be very hard to beat.
“Of course we can beat them, that is what I’ve been saying to the players,” he said.
We have to be aggressive, because this is a young team and we have nothing to lose. I have the feeling that the guys understand this, so we are ready for a big battle against Italy.”
One of Santilli’s first actions as coach was to name 211cm star player, Tom Edgar, as captain, replacing Aidan Zingel who was unavailable.
The concern was that the captaincy might prove a distraction for Edgar, easily Australia’s most prolific points scorer and an intimidating presence for opposing teams.
But Santilli is confident the big Queenslander can cope.
“He can be the leader of this team, and this is what we expect from him,” Santilli said.
“Inside of the court he is the most important attacker, and he’s also the only player in this team who plays in a professional league.
“Of course we have to balance the expectation that we have on him, and also balance what he can produce for the team.
“I’ve spent some time with him and he is really happy to be a leader for the young guys. I think he will be one of the keys, one of the new sensations that this kind of team can give us.”
Australia has played Italy five times in World League, but has never taken a set off the former World number ones.
But they did lead Italy 2-0 before losing 2-3 at the London Olympics, and Italy has since tumbled to fourth in the world, compared to Australia’s 13th.
Australia takes on Italy on Friday and Saturday at Adelaide Arena, before heading to Brazil to take on the world number ones the following weekend.
Fearless Volleyroos finish with another win
The young Australian women’s volleyball team has shown once again its fighting qualities with a tough five-set win over India at the Asian Championships in China.
The Volleyroos had to fight back from two sets to one down to beat India 25-18, 16-26, 22-25, 25-17, 15-13.
The win means Australia finishes ninth with a five win two loss record, including victories in their final four matches.
The Volleyroos receive no government funding, relying on the generous support of Patron and sponsor, Gina Rinehart, to help them compete at the top level.
What the history books won’t show is that for much of the Asian Championships illness and injury made it almost impossible for coach Mark Barnard to put together a starting line-up.
Ninth is the same result as two years ago, but with a very different looking team.
24-year-old Beth Carey, who played her first Asian Championships in 2009 and was a member of the team in 2013, believes the current team could develop into something special.
“What’s great about having a young and slightly inexperienced team is we can shape it for the future,” she said.
“Having a fearless mindset is very beneficial, we’ll keep working on that, and in the future we could be unstoppable and fearless.”
“Coming into the first scratch match it felt like a unit, and we’ve grown from there. Growing so quickly I think we’ll become really tight knit. And once our skill level grows we could become unstoppable.”
Australia started strongly against India, comfortably taking the opening set.
But then a big change came over the game, with the Volleyroos making numerous errors.
After losing the second set, Australia lost nine points straight in the third set to trail 14-4, and then 20-13 before fighting back to lose the set 23-25.
“We started really strong, I thought we might beat them in three,” Carey said.
“But then I think we got a little bit too comfortable. We should have taken our time, slowed things down.
“I was watching from the sidelines, it looked very tense but very flat. There wasn’t the Australian spirit, getting excited for a point or getting aggressive to win a point back.
“But even when we were down 14-4 I still had a thought we could come back from that and win the set.”
Carey said the Australians never believe they are out of a match.
“I’ve been in plenty of teams where when it gets to 20 points, they give up. I love this team, you might be down 14-20 and we keep fighting,” she said.
“We’ve been seen as Australian underdogs for a very long time. What I love about this team is we don’t care where we are in the rankings, we just go out fearless and play our game with the Australian spirit.”
The Australians will now prepare for the World Grand Prix, with Australia set to host their division final in Canberra in July.
Pacific Volleyball Partnership Staff in Australia
Volleyball Australia is pleased to welcome coaches and managers from the Fiji and Vanuatu Volleyball Federation’s to Australia. The coaches and managers will stay in Melbourne and Adelaide for three weeks as the beneficiaries of the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Australia Awards Fellowship program. These fellowships offer Volleyball Australia the opportunity to strengthen partnerships and links with their Pacific counterparts as well as increase the capacity of national volleyball federations in Fiji and Vanuatu to deliver their respective Pacific Volleyball Partnership activities.
The four community coaches based in Adelaide will complete a Level 1 Coaching Certificate, an inclusive sport workshop, basic project management training and practical event management experience. Similarly, two Pacific Volleyball Partnership program managers will participate in partnership brokering, project management, monitoring and evaluation and corporate sponsorship training in Melbourne.
All guests are thoroughly enjoying their time in Australia and making the most of the experience.
VA would like to especially acknowledge Volleyball SA and the Fiji Association of South Australia for their assistance in hosting the community coaching participants in Adelaide.