VOLLEYBALL TEAM AUSTRALIA START OLYMPIC QUALIFICATION CAMPAIGN WITH FRIENDLY FIRE
Australia’s men’s indoor team have kick-started their qualifying campaign for London with two encouraging “friendlies” against Bulgaria and Iran in the run up to the Asian World Olympic Qualification Tournament in Japan next month (June 1-10).
Despite going down in both games the men showed good early signs in what will be an intense month long run of training at their European training base in Varese, Italy and a series of lead up games against Italy, Poland and the Netherlands.
They began their Olympic Qualification preparation with a hard-fought three sets to one loss to world ranked number nine team, Bulgaria (25-19, 17-25, 25-27, 15:25).
Playing at the brand new stadium in the city of Sofia the team took it to their more fancied opponents early with some outstanding blocking and great transition attack, taking the first set 25-19.
The Bulgarians came out firing from the break, putting together a string of quick attack points and some strong serving to skip to a 14-20 lead. The Australians fought hard to reduce the deficit but the Bulgarian’s showed their experience to close out the set 17-25.
The third set was a great tussle with our young guys improving their passing accuracy and attack efficiency in both reception and transition. The Bulgarian’s held a slim two point lead going into the second technical time out (14-16). The Aussies showed great spirit to level the scores at 25 all after being down 22-24 but again, the experience of Bulgarian team showed and they took the third set 25-27.
The fourth set started well for our boys with Aidan Zingel leading the way with some great blocking and good attack options. The VTAM traded blows with their opponents going into the second technical timeout down 12-16. The passing accuracy fell away following the time out and the Bulgarians were quick to take advantage, the fourth set and the match.
“Overall this was a good performance from the boys who are experiencing a condensed preparation with a couple of players still to join the squad as their commitments with their respective clubs wind up,” said team manager, Matt Sebbens.
The boys then played a much anticipated match with Olympic Qualification Tournament favourites Iran going down in straight sets (21-25, 22-25, 19-25) in an error riddled match, mistakes that cost the Aussie boys dearly.
Like the game against Bulgaria the Australia started this game exceptionally well, executing the game plan constructed by Head Coach Jon Uriarte and Assistant Coach Dan Ilott and killing the ball with ease.
Errors started to creep into their game and with the first set poised at 14-18 the VTAM were making eight percent more errors in attack than their opposition which was keeping them in the set but Iran took the opportunities presented to them and closed out the set 21-25.
After a disappointing finish to the first set the boys were determined in their approach to the second with some great blocking lead by Aidan Zingel and Luke Smith sensationally backed up by our Libero, Aden Tutton.
The Aussie boys went into the first technical timeout down by two and reduced that margin to one (15-16) by the second time out. During the back half of the set this youthful team showed glimpses of what they are capable of but consistency cost them and the Iranian’s once again capitalized to take the second 22-25.
The third set was much like the first with the Aussie boys dominating sections of the set but through a lack of accuracy in their passing and reception errors they could not maintain any pressure in reception attack. Iran showed their class as current Asian Champions closing out the set 19-25 and the match.
• Australia will play the Italian National Team on Friday with the final three members of the squad John Dekker, Greg Sukochev and Adam White arriving into the camp after completing their respective club commitments.