Women volleyroos look to future after 2015 Grand Prix

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BARNARD CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT TO HELP ACHIEVE OLYMPIC DREAM

The Australian women’s volleyball team has finished the 2015 Grand Prix series without a win, with head coach Mark Barnard pleading for more support for the sport to succeed.

The Australians were unable to finish with a win in the finals series in Canberra, the first time the team has played in Australia since the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

The Volleyroos lost the bronze medal playoff to Colombia, 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-16) while Kenya won the gold medal and promotion to Group 2 in 2016 with a shock 21-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 win over Peru.

Barnard said Australia was only able to compete in this year’s Grand Prix because of the generous support of backers like Hancock Prospecting, and for the team to make Tokyo in 2020 more help would be needed.

“We cannot do it under the current way that things are done,” he said.

“You can’t just play two tournaments a year, train for two weekends and then go to Tokyo. It’s unrealistic.”

While the Australian men’s indoor team, and the men’s and women’s beach teams, all get Government funding, there is no money for the women’s program because it is not considered a realistic medal prospect in the short term.

But Australia has jumped from a world ranking of 100 to 46 in under a year, and Barnard believes the team will continue to improve if the conditions are right.

“If the situation changes, and we have a place where the players can train regularly, get strength and conditioning, then Tokyo becomes a realistic goal,” he said.

“If it stays like this, then 2024 should be more of a consideration. We have to do some things tomorrow, realistically, if we are going to get there.”

Sunday’s match against Colombia also signaled the end of the career of setter Lauren Bertolacci, who is about to take up a role as coach of a professional men’s team in Switzerland.

Despite playing for Australia for more than a decade, this weekend was the first time she had the opportunity to play for her country in Australia.

30-year-old Bertolacci, said while she was sad to finish her playing career, she is excited about the future – and would one day like to coach an Australian team.

“It would be nice, wouldn’t it,” she said.

“I’d love to. Of course I’d be interested. 100 per cent.

“To be honest, before the game I didn’t even think about my retirement. But at the end I looked around, and thought this was a pretty good way to go out. It was pretty emotional.”

International Women's Volleyball Comes to Canberra

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Volleyball Australia is pleased to announce that it will throw the doors open at the Finals of the World Women’s Grand Prix offering all spectators the opportunity to see world class women’s volleyball for the first time since 2000 Olympics at a door entry price of just $5.

Two major sponsors have come on board to support the hosting of world women’s volleyball, comparable to the World League of Men’s Volleyball which completed this weekend in Melbourne.

BendonLingerie.com and Hancock Prospecting have both underwritten the hosting of the event to ensure equality of opportunity for our women’s Volleyroos and to continue the commitment of Volleyball Australia to gender equality in all aspects of the delivery of volleyball in Australia. 

“As the world’s largest gender equal team sport, its imperative we build the profile and opportunities for our Women Volleyroos.  For too long a lack of government funding has dictated a lack of focus but last year Volleyball Australia committed to delivering to our women’s team a rebuilding program towards Tokyo 2020.  The World Women’s Grand Prix is the ideal event for our Volleyroos who have competed in Kazakhstan and Algeria in the preliminary rounds ahead of the Group 3 Finals this weekend at the AIS Arena in Canberra.”

The World Women’s Grand Prix will be the first world women’s volleyball event hosted in Australia since Sydney 2000 and Volleyball Australia implores volleyball and women’s sport supporters to attend the event and support in numbers the Volleyroos as they take on Columia,, Peru and Kenya in the finals this weekend in an event televised globally.

Matches start at 4pm Saturday, with Columbia playing Peru, and the the Volleyroos will take on Kenya at 7pm.  Sunday's finals are set for 1pm and 4pm.

Get your tickets online at http://eventopia.co/WGP2015

 

Australia pulls of stunning last-gasp win to avoid relegation

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AUSTRALIA AVOID RELEGATION WITH THRILLING FIVE-SET WIN

The Australian men's volleyball team has avoided relegation from the prestigious Group One of World League with a thrilling five-set win against world number eight, Serbia, in Melbourne.

The Australians went into the match knowing anything short of a win would see them drop back to Group Two of World League next year.

Having reaped two qualification victories on Wednesday to make the 32-team Main Draw, the 31st-seeded Artacho/Laird continued their winning momentum by defeating Germany’s second seeds Laura Ludwig/Kira Walkenhorst 2-0 (21-17, 21-19) in the morning and Czech Republic’s 15th seeds Kristyna Kolocova/Marketa Slukova 2-0 (21-16, 24-22) in the afternoon.

“Cool! It feels pretty unbelievable! Our first season, our first Grand Slam, come as qualifiers, it feels pretty unreal,” said Artacho.

The second set of the second round match between Artacho/Laird and Kolocova/Slukova was hotly contested and the Australians withstood two set points to level it at 20-all thanks to a Artacho block against Kolocova. After Artacho beat off the fourth set point of the Czech Republic with another block, an error of Slukova during a long rally awarded Artacho/Laird their first match point and Artacho converted on it with an accurate drop shot.

“It feels pretty unreal, but we came back in the second set. We just stuck together for every point and believed in each other and we can do it,” Artacho added. “I think that the most important thing is to believe in ourselves and say: we can do it, it's possible.”

Laird attributed the surprising wins to their concentration. “It’s our first Grand Slam and it's all a bit overwhelming. So breaking everything down, making it a lit bit smaller, a little bit simpler,” she said. “In the game just play our ball. Last point doesn't matter, the next point doesn't matter, and it’s all about what's happening in that one moment.”

Having secured their berth in the 24-team knock-out stage, Artacho/Laird now put their eyes on the last match and the top place of the pool.

“We always go one step at a time, even breaking the game down, thinking nothing, just one game at a time has helped us come this far,” Artacho said. “We still haven’t finish pool match, so our next goal is to finish atop of our pool. Being that our last game today, we can now switch off, relax and get ready for tomorrow's games.”

Home favorites Xue/Xia also had a fine start on Thursday as they swept Kazakhstan’s Tatyana Mashkova/Irina Tsimbalova 2-0 (21-17, 21-11) before beating Ana Gallay and Georgina Klug of Argentina 2-0 (21-19, 21-19).

“We were satisfied with our play today,“ said Xue, who paired with Xia to take the bronze medal at last week’s season-opening Fuzhou Open. “My partner is very young and we have a lot to improve together, so every match is a good test and challenge for us.“

It’s also the first Grand Slam event for the newly formed Chinese combination and they vowed to do as best as they. “It’s important for us to get more points and this Grand Slam is a great opportunity, we’ll do the best we can,“ Xue added.

Other top teams winning two matches in a row include Walsh/Ross of the United States, Juliana/Antonelli, Talita Antunes/Taiana Lima, Agatha Bednarczuk/Barbara Seixas De Freitas from Brazil and Germany’s Karla Borger/Britta Buthe, Katrin Holtwick/Ilka Semmler.

Thirty-two teams are playing a single round robin in eight groups with top three finishers from each group to advance to the 24-team knockout stage.

The 2014 FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour calendar features a record purse of US$10.2 million with a season that extends from late April to mid-December competing at 21 venues in 18 countries. This year’s FIVB World Tour includes a record 10 FIVB Grand Slam events, the inaugural Grand Slam Finale and 11 FIVB Open Tournaments throughout the world, helping expand the door for development of the sport even further.

The 10 FIVB Grand Slam competitions, all double-gender, have eight with $800,000 in total purses while both The Hague, Netherlands and the Long Beach, Calif., USA event will have $1 million each in prize money, the most in FIVB Grand Slam history.

 

 

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