Australian Volleyball League – Round 2 Wrap
Rewatch all the AVL 2022 Round 2 games on Cluch TV
NSW Phoenix vs QLD Pirates
Men’s Game 1: NSW 1 – 3 QLD (14-25, 25-17, 19-25, 17-25)
Men’s Game 2: NSW 0 – 3 QLD (16-25, 22-25, 16-25)
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a new look men’s NSW Phoenix team made their 2022 AVL debut over the weekend.
The QLD Pirates also have a number of fresh faces in their team, but noticeably missing from this weekend’s lineup were Captain Kieran Ivers, Libero Jack Halley and Opposite Connor O’Neill. However with the opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and find their rhythm as a team in the opening round last weekend, the Pirates proved dominant on the court at Sydney Olympic Park, winning both men’s matches.
Both teams full of young players, the first match saw a shaky start from the Phoenix with too many errors to compete with the Queensland Pirates, going down 1 – 3 (14-25, 25-17, 19-25, 17-25).
The second match started similarly to the first, and while the Phoenix fought back in the second set to take an early lead, high error rates in serve and attack meant that the Pirates offense was too reliable, giving them the second win for the weekend.
“I’m proud of how our team stuck to our system and played our individual roles,” Brad Sting of the Pirates said. “It was awesome to see some young guys who traveled killing it, with a lot of new things coming our way that we weren’t used to, but we adapted and managed to achieve the big goal of the weekend, two wins.”
Women’s Game 1: NSW 3 – 1 QLD (25-21, 25-23, 16-26, 28-26)
Women’s Game 2: NSW 3 – 0 QLD (25-18, 25-23, 25-23)
The scores were reversed for the Women’s matches with the NSW Phoenix dominating the QLD Pirates in both games. Despite NSW playing their first AVL matches for the season, the team instantly gelled on court, and even when fatigue set in, their determination shone through to take the double victory.
“It was awesome to see the whole squad work so well together for our first games of the season,” captain Laura Reeks said.
Canberra Heat vs WA Steel
Men’s Game 1: ACT 3 – 1 WA (25-21, 25-18, 18-25, 25-20)
Men’s Game 2: ACT 1 – 3 WA (25-22, 25-20, 11-25, 26-24)
Canberra Heat proved to be too strong for the WA Steel in the first match-up of the weekend and a repeat of the 2019 AVL semi-final match.
Seth Chen earned his first AVL start as setter for the Heat and made some smart plays through the middle to Simon Hone and Cameron Steer. WA answered back through Jose Martines and through good use of the pipe and Jed Walker. Serving pressure proved a big difference with Trav Passier and Sam Walker racking up aces for Canberra Heat, while WA had one too many service errors which ACT capitalised on to take the 3-1 victory.
“We were happy with the overall performance,” Canberra Heat Coach Ben Hardy said. “With a couple of normal starters away, it was great to see the younger guys step up. Seth Chen set well for his first start and we are happy with our serving targets and pressure around the block.”
In a reversal of Saturday’s match WA Steel came away with the 3-1 win over the Heat on Sunday. Coach Ben Gray made a number of lineup changes from the previous match with Kable Monck starting and Jed Walker moving into the opposite position.
Great defensive work by Oswald Tan and Daniel Piggot putting his body on the line to keep making digs allowed WA to create scoring chances. The Canberra Heat will look back in frustration as they showed in the third set the type of play they can produce, but it was too little too late as WA won the fourth set 26-24 to claim the victory.
“It was great to bounce back from yesterday and split the round against Canberra, it always makes the travel worthwhile,” Steel Coach Ben Gray said.
Women’s Game 1: ACT 3 – 2 WA (9-25, 25-22, 13-25, 25-16, 15-7)
Women’s Game 2: ACT 0 – 3 WA (25-10, 25-21, 25-13)
A seesawing five-set thriller between the Canberra Heat and WA Steel started the Round 2 action in Canberra on Saturday.
With excellent attacking from both teams, standout performances came from Tessa Browne (WA Steel) and Kasey Hogan (Canberra Heat) in the middle. However, it was the outside attacking from Heat’s Ella Milne that proved the difference as she kept the pressure on WA.
Some strong serving from Canberra Georgia Niedermeier and Holly Mallet made it difficult in the fourth and fifth set for WA to get the momentum back, and ACT came out victorious from the five-set marathon.
After a nail-biting match on Saturday, the WA steel turned around their loss and powered through for a 3-0 victory on Sunday. Leading the way in defense and attack was captain Shelby Maher, while Caity Whincup also put in a fantastic effort.
Melbourne Vipers vs Adelaide Storm
Men’s Game 1: VIC 1 – 3 SA (25-22, 19-25, 18-25, 14-25)
Men’s Game 2: VIC 0 – 3 SA (19-25, 18-25, 21-25)
In their second week of away-matches, the Adelaide Storm proved dominant on the road, defeating the Melbourne Vipers in front of their home crowd in back-to-back AVL matches over the weekend.
The Vipers had a strong start taking the opening set of the first game, but South Australia’s Regan Fathers took control of the game, with seven kills from nine attacks and changing the momentum for the Storm. Followed by some strong serving from the whole Storm team, they claimed the opening game 3-1.
Sunday followed much the same pattern with the Storm claiming a straight-set victory, with South Australia’s Brendan Clewes and Nathan Roberts displaying impressive performances in their high quality setting game.
Women’s Game 1: VIC 3-0 SA (25-18, 25-16, 25-15)
Women’s Game 2: VIC 3-1 SA (25-20, 27-25, 23-25, 25-22)
With both the Women’s Vipers and Storm coming off wins in round one, their clash in Melbourne was set to be an interesting match-up.
A dominant performance from left side hitter Gwen Thornton put the Vipers in the box seat across all three sets in Saturday’s game. Vipers captain and setter Kelly Lean spread the hitting, making blocking and defending for the Storm a big challenge. Storm’s Beth Carey and Vipers’ Monique Stojanovic put on a good show at the net with both pulling off some hard hitting and big blocks to excite the crowd, but it was the Vipers who ran away with a 3:0 victory.
On Sunday it proved to be a much closer game with the Vipers taking it out in a hard fought four sets (25-20, 27-25, 23-25, 25-22). The Storm came out firing and really tested the Vipers serve receive, and a much improved defense by the Storm made for some crowd-pleasing rallies. However with Caitlin Waterfall leading Sunday’s match for the Vipers and a solid serving game, Victoria took their second victory.