Bawden and Clancy are off to Rio

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Louise Bawden and Taliqua Clancy have today been officially named to represent Australia in beach volleyball at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Selection is another important step in their master plan of winning a medal on the famous Copacabana Beach.

Clancy, 23, will become Australia’s first Indigenous Olympian in the sport and Bawden, 34, is off to her third Games, 16 years after her first. The pair joined forces after the London Olympics and have continued to improve and now consistently challenge the top teams in the world.

The pair finished the 15-month qualification period seeded seventh on Olympic adjusted rankings, to easily secure the most direct way to the Games amongst the top 15 teams.

Both athletes are proud to have secured Olympic selection and to be seeded near the top of the field, but it is just the start of their Rio plans.

“Selection is very exciting and I feel very fortunate to be going to a third Games but the job is not done,” Bawden, who played indoor volleyball at Sydney 2000 and beach with Becchara Palmer at London 2012, said.

“Seeded seventh is a good position to be in, but we are always wanting more. We are doing everything possible to produce our strongest performances and win an Olympic medal on the beach in Rio.”

The Adelaide-based pair had match points against the world champions from Brazil in Hamburg last week before finishing fifth, providing more motivation for the final weeks of their preparation.

Clancy hopes her hard work and rise from top junior to making her first Olympic team will motivate other Indigenous athletes to follow in her footsteps.

“I’m really proud of it (selection),” Clancy said. “I’m starting to realise how special it is for me and my culture. I hope I can inspire people to dream and do things that haven’t been done before.

“My family are really happy for me. They don’t get too over excited but they are pretty proud.”

Clancy left her hometown of Kingaroy in Queensland - which is 200km inland from the nearest beach – aged 16, and was soon part of the Australian beach volleyball program in Adelaide. She was part of the Continental Cup team format that helped Natalie Cook and Tamsin Hinchley secure their place at London 2012.

Clancy has not been back home to Kingaroy for quite a while but she is looking forward to going back there after the Games.

“I don’t get home too much but my grandparents keep me updated on what is happening and I’m looking forward to going back for a visit after the Games.”

Her grandparents won’t make the trip to Rio but the rest of her direct family, and some friends who are already travelling, will be sitting in the stands cheering on the Aussies at Copacabana Beach.

Bawden’s longevity in the sport is remarkable and she has enjoyed assuming the senior role as they continue to improve. One of their targets is ‘continual growth’ and personally Bawden is ‘really loving it and still finding areas to improve.’

The pair travel back to Europe on Friday for more tournaments in Croatia and Switzerland. The Major Series event in Gstaad is where the make-up of the four teams in each of the six pools will be known.

Australia can qualify one more women’s team and a men’s team for Rio through the cut-throat Asia- Pacific Continental Cup Final being held on the Esplanade in Cairns this week. The top men’s and women’s team at the tournament will book their spot in Rio, while the second and third placed teams get one last shot in Russia next month.

The Continental Cup process started back in early 2015 and Bawden is feeling for her teammates.

“We are sending good vibes to the Teams up in Cairns. T (Taliqua) was part of it for London and it is an incredibly high pressure event. The pairs are supporting each other well and are feeling positive.”

Three-time Asian Champions Chris McHugh and Isaac Kapa will look to assert their dominance. The second Australian team will be Joshua Court and Damien Schumann.

Nikki Laird and Mariafe Artacho del Solar were second behind a strong Chinese Team at the recent Asian Championships on Manly Beach and they’ll be looking to turn the tables in Cairns. 2012 Olympian Becchara Palmer and former Australian indoor player, Phoebe Bell, will make up the second team.    

The selection of Bawden and Clancy takes the number of athletes on the 2016 Olympic Team so far to 189 from 19 sports, with an expected final team of around 400 athletes.

Italy stares down plucky Volleyroos

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ITALY STARES DOWN AUSTRALIAN CHALLENGE

Australian volleyball coach Roberto Santilli believes his team can still match the top teams in the world, despite losing all three matches on the opening weekend of World League in Sydney.

The helloworld Volleyroos showed improvement despite losing 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 25-20) to Italy on Sunday afternoon.

The team has been without captain Tom Edgar (abdomen) and middle blocker Nehemiah Mote (knee) over the weekend, and will also lose former captain Aidan Zingel (ankle) for next weekend’s fixtures in Rome.

Australia were beaten 3-0 by Belgium after controlling most of the opening set on Friday night, but were then soundly beaten by current World League champions, France, on Saturday night.

On Sunday Santilli promoted 22-year-old Jordan Richards to the starting line-up, and he responded with a powerful display of serving, blocking and spiking to lead the scoring for the Volleyroos with 15 points.

“I think we played much better than the first and second day,” Santilli said.

“We put some young guys out there, and Richards and (Harry) Peacock played well.

“Even if we play well, at the important moment we always make a mistake. It is through experience mainly.”

Captain Greg Sukochev said despite the injuries the team was on the improve.

“We matched it with them for almost the entire game,” he said.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t take away any sets, but point-for-point it was a real battle. The stepping stones are there, we just have to take the steps.”

Australia will get a chance of revenge against Italy and Belgium next weekend, as well as USA, before heading to Dallas for the final weekend of World League.

Statement from Volleyball Australia on passing of Georgie Rowe

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Volleyball Australia is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Volleyroo Georgie Rowe, a valued member of the Australian women’s volleyball team and the wider volleyball community.

The Australian men’s volleyball team will observe a one minute silence before Sunday’s World League match against Italy as a mark of respect for the life of Georgie Rowe, a tremendous friend and teammate of many in Australian volleyball.

The following is a statement from Georgie’s family.

It is with great sadness and loss that Georgie Rowe passed away on Saturday June 18 following a severe car accident.

Georgie's passion was Volleyball and she achieved success at all levels including playing for the Australian Women's Volleyball team. Her family has been overwhelmed with support from so many people, not the least being the Volleyball community. She was so driven and determined and had a presence on the court, whilst having a kind and quiet personality.

 

She inspired so many and will be greatly missed.

 

Peter, Fiona and Tom Rowe

SANTILLI URGES VOLLEYROOS TO FINISH ON A HIGH

Australian volleyball coach Roberto Santilli has urged his team to focus on their final three games at the 2015 World Cup, after losing in straight sets to Poland in Toyama, Japan.

The Australians have won just the one game so far in Japan, but will head to Tokyo this weekend for three winnable games against Iran, Tunisia and Venezuela.

The Volleyroos were outplayed by Poland, one of only two teams still undefeated at the World Cup, losing 25-15, 25-22, 25-17.

“Today we just watched a senior team against a junior team,” Santilli said.

“Of course, they had a big defence, especially on serve and reception. We tried to let some guys play who normally don’t play a lot. We did what we could.

“Of course, we cannot be satisfied but we have to look at our target which is the next three games. We just have to turn the page and focus on the next three games.”

There were some positive signs for the Volleyroos, most notably the performances of Libero Luke Perry and middle blocker, Nehemiah Mote, two of the youngest members of the Australian team.

Captain Thomas Edgar led the scoring with 17 points, and also urged his team to finish the World Cup strongly.

“Our focus has to switch now to three very important games in Tokyo to round out this tournament,” he said.

“We need to play well not only against Iran, but also against the other two opponents, so I hope we can finish the tournament on a high and keep improving for the future.”

The top two teams at the World Cup will automatically qualify for Rio next year, with the undefeated Poland and USA currently in the box seat.

The Volleyroos will return to Japan next year for a final qualifying event. 

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