Australian Volleyball League – Round 1 Wrap
The highly anticipated 2022 Australian Volleyball League (AVL) began over the weekend, with teams competing in Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.
Queensland Pirates V Canberra Heat
The Men’s and Women’s Canberran team traveled north for the opening round of the AVL, taking on the Pirates on their home soil at Iona College, Lindum QLD.
The first match was a replay of the last seven men’s gold medal matches, but with a number of fresh faces for both teams, with more experienced players having retired during the 2020 and 2021 postponed seasons.
The final score certainly didn’t reflect the tight tussles and long rallies during the match, with the Heat claiming the opening game 3:0 (25;18, 31:29, 25:22).
Stand in Head Coach of the Canberra Heat, Les Young was excited by the opening match result.
“There was a lot of scrappy play on both sides, but we sort of expected that for the first game of the season, but we were happy with the win. It definitely wasn’t easy,” Young said.
“We have a bunch of new guys, but the good thing is we have some of the core team as well that set the standards and bring the new guys through.”
Sunday’s game saw an epic two and a quarter hours, five-set battle. Gone were the timid and loose plays from QLD on Saturday, replaced by a fast, dynamic attack and aggressive serving, led by the Pirates captain Kieran Ivers.
The marathon match was largely point-for-point, with not a lot separating the two experienced teams. However, it was the Pirates that eventually took the win 3:2 (25:20, 22:25, 25:21, 26:28, 15:13).
In the women’s league, QLD more comfortably won both games against the ACT. With national beach athlete Phoebe Bell returning to the indoor game, Emma Burton returning from a professional contract overseas, and with Kylie Garlick, the Pirates libero and the most capped member of the team, controlling the back court beautifully, the Pirates were confident heading into the weekend.
With setter Kylee White running a smooth offence, the Pirates were always in control of the three-set victory (25:22; 25:22; 25:16) in Saturday’s opening clash.
Sunday’s women’s match once again saw the combination of setter White with hitters Bell and opposite Burton prove too strong for the Canberra Heat, for a straight-set QLD win 3:0 (25:14; 25:20; 25:18).
Pirates Head Coach Terry Rudder was impressed with the consistency of his team over the weekend.
“Our attack was really controlled and our blocking created pressure on their attack, even if we didn’t get a kill block. I was also really happy with our debutants, especially Brooke Young and Caity Meale,” Rudder said.
Tasmanian Echidnas v Adelaide Storm
The Adelaide Storm proved too strong for the Tassie home teams during the first round of the 2022 AVL, with the South Australian teams coming out victorious in both men’s and women’s double headers.
The Storm started strongly and with confidence in the opening Men’s game, with captain Nathan Roberts controlling the tempo to claim the opening set. However the Echidnas found their confidence in the second, and with Sam Wardlaw and Callum Dude hitting well and blocking strongly, they levelled up the game.
Both teams fought hard in the third and fourth sets with Rory West and Matt Drown performing consistently in the middle for the Storm, helping the away team secure a 3-1 victory (25-16, 18-25, 25-17, 25-20).
The Storm carried their momentum into Sunday’s second game, claiming a straight set victory 3:0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-21).
In the women’s matches, the Echidna’s put on a strong performance for their first AVL experience, however their South Australian opponents were too strong, winning Saturday’s game 3:0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-20) and Sunday’s game 3:1 (25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 27-25).
Consistent work from the Storm’s middle hitter and captain Beth Carey, supported by setter Lucy Ambagtsheer, and with Elke Jarvis, Analise School and Sarah Gould hitting big winners, the Storm were dominant across the court.
The Echidnas were impressive in attack, led by captain Triin Thorpe, with Natalia Ribiero and Lucy Allwright hitting well from strong setting by Sami Ashcroft and great defence from Viivi Hokkenin, Kaitlyn Palfrey and Gemma Wilkinson.
WA Steel v Melbourne Vipers
The Men’s WA Steel were a force to be reckoned with in the opening round of the AVL, defeating the Melbourne Vipers with back-to-back straight set victories.
At Warwick Stadium in Perth on Saturday, the Steel won 3:0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-22), before moving to HBF Arena on Sunday for another 3:0 (28-26, 25-28, 25-13) victory.
Following his debut AVL game, the youngest member of the WA Steel, Jed Walker, said a 3:0 victory was a great start to the AVL season.
“It was a really successful first game, I just loved being out there with the boys after a pretty long pre-season.
“I thought our captain Kable [Monck] played really well. There were a few moments where as a team we started to drop off, and he really picked up the ball and took it on and was really important for us today.”
However the results were reversed in the women’s event, with the Vipers from Victoria victorious in both matches with 3:0 wins.
For full results – CLICK HERE