Fearless Volleyroos finish with another win

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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

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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.

Italy arrive in Adelaide determined to climb back to the top

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The Italian men’s volleyball team, once the world powerhouse of the sport, has arrived in Adelaide this week determined to begin the climb back to the top of the International rankings.

But the team has arrived without at least three of its best players, including the brilliant Ivan Zaytsev.

 

Barnard and everyone associated with the fledgling International team had been impressed with the side’s progress during their first two Grand Prix games.

Sure, they lost to Kazakhstan and the Czech Republic in straight sets, but the Volleyroos showed plenty of the underdog spirit Barnard spoke so openly about in the event lead-up.

On Sunday, it was gone.

“We just did not play very well for probably 70 per cent of the match,” Barnard said.

“There were spurts there, but we were physically outmatched. We made way too many errors. The experience of being resilient, of going through that a lot of times and learning how to get out of it, we haven’t learned that.”

Barnard took the decision to give the players the morning off from training ahead of the Croatia game because he was worried about burn out.

He’s now not sure that was the right call.

“Maybe we should have pushed through it,” he said.

“But in the back of my mind I know they don’t play and train all the time, so it’s very easy to train them into the ground. Part of the intention today was to have them rest. I’m just not sure what the correlation between not doing anything this morning and the result this afternoon.”

The reality is this is a steep learning curve for the Volleyroos, and anyone who follows the sport in Australia knows this is the first step down a long and winding road.

Volleyball Australia President Craig Carracher knows.

“Let’s remember this is off the back of a decade of limited support,” he said after Sunday’s loss.

“This is the start of a rebuilding process, a process to create opportunity for a generation of players and coaches and administrators and officials.

“There are 200 countries playing women’s volleyball, and this was always going to be a long road. But we can’t not start the journey just because we know it’s a long and difficult one.”

Australia has the nucleus of a very good volleyball team, and with several players about to head to overseas leagues, and with several more hoping to follow, there is going to be more consistent exposure to the best.

But there are also a handful of players contemplating retirement. Some are listening to the protests of their own bodies, others are finding it difficult to balance full-time jobs with the commitment needed to play at the top level.

Which will leave enormous holes to fill. All the more reason Australia needs this Grand Prix experience to work.

Judging by the reaction of younger squad members like Nikki Cunningham and Jess Ryder, it’s a good news story so far.

“It’s a whole new level,” Ryder, who made her senior International debut against Kazakhstan on Friday, said.

“I can’t wait for the future years, when I can get on the court more, maybe even start on court.”

The immediate challenge for Australia, now they’ve taken one step back, is to move forward again next weekend in Croatia in week two of the Grand Prix.

 

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