AVL Round 3 Weekend Wrap
QLD Pirates vs WA Steel
Women’s Game 1: QLD 0:3 WA (20-25, 16-25, 15:-25)
Women’s Game 2: QLD 0:3 WA (17-25, 20-25, 20-25)
With the Volleyball Queensland Junior Schools Cup (yr 7 & 8) being played this weekend, the Pirates elected to host this round against the WA Steel also on the Gold Coast so players from the 224 teams competing could see the Australian Volleyball League first-hand.
Clearly, the WA Steel Women’s came to play and put on a high quality show across Saturday and Sunday, winning both games in straight sets.
Led strongly by captain Shelby Maher, the Steel opened a five-point lead in the firsts set, and never let the gap get smaller than five points across the whole weekend. Stand-out performances came from Steel young-gun Caitlin Whincup, providing a real threat and showing maturity beyond her years, alongside blocker Tessa Browne, who became an impenetrable wall against the Pirates’ attack.
“After last weekend, when we managed to get a win in Canberra against the Heat, we came into round 3 with a little more confidence,” WA Steel Head Coach Pauline Manser said. “The girls held their bottom end and kept working together to get a really strong team performance.
“Tessa Brown did a really good job of blocking today,” Manser said after Sunday’s game. “She figured it out late in the game last night, but really switched it on today.”
Men’s Game 1: QLD 3 – 1 WA (25:22 21:25; 25:17, 25:21)
Men’s Game 2: QLD 3 – 2 WA (23:25; 25:15; 12:25, 25:21; 15:13)
Spurred on by the vocal QLD Schools Cup crowd, the Men’s QLD Pirates won back-to-back games against WA Steel.
In contrast to the Women’s team, the Men’s Pirates came out of the gate firing on all cylinders on Saturday with a win against WA in the first set. However WA clawed their way back in the second set, mounting their own assault against Queensland’s defensive line to even the score. A strong and commanding lead at the start of the third set allowed QLD coach Bryce Kelly to substitute on Luke Di Trapani, Jack McIntosh and Konna Dingwall, all making their AVL debuts on home soil. With the score tied at 18:18 and enigmatic Captain Kieran Ivers serving, the Pirates reeled off five straight points to get the advantage they needed to win the match 3 sets to 1.
Sunday’s match was another close affair, going down to the wire across five sets. Set 1 had the teams going toe-to-toe. Pirates setter Ewan Thiele directed his team’s offence expertly, regularly giving his hitters just one blocker to face. However, it seemed that whatever the Pirates could do, the Steel could match. In the end it was one key block from the Steel that split the teams, Steel winning 25:23.
Whatever Pirates’ Head Coach Bryce Kelly said in the break must have worked, with QLD racing to a 2:7 lead in the second set to claim it 25:15. However the Steel responded in a complete momentum switch, taking the third 25:12 with Daniel Piggot leading the way. The teams stood toe-to-toe, trading points to 14:14 in the fourth, before a monster block from VolleyRoo Steve McDonald and an ace off the top of the net from Jonah Pierce swung things the Pirates’ way, taking it 25:21.
So to a 5th and deciding set. Unfortunately for Pirates, talismanic setter Ewan Thiele’s sweat on the ball caused a handling error and gave the Steel the early advantage with a 5:2 lead. On the back of some key blocks by McDonald the Pirates clawed their way back to 9:9. At 10:10 Thiele atoned for his earlier error by serving an ace, giving his team the lead for the first time in the set. An incredible spike from Pittorino finally gave the win to the Pirates 15:13.
Pirates Head Coach Bryce Kelly, said the team had some impressive performances over the weekend, but still have more to give.
“We just can’t seem to get the job done in the earlier sets. Yesterday we stayed in third gear for the whole match, today we got to fourth, but we probably have two gears to go at least. Today was a game of pressure and we handled it pretty well in the fifth after being down 2:5,” he said.
“We have the bye next week so we will work on our consistency and our serving. We used all 14 players on our list over the weekend and all had a positive impact each time they took the court. Without the 14 guys I think we would really have struggled.”
NSW Phoenix vs Adelaide Storm
Women’s Game 1: NSW 3:2 SA (25-22, 18-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-7)
Women’s Game 2: NSW 1:3 SA (17-25, 14-25, 25-20, 16-25)
As predicted, the AVL round 3 clash between the Women’s NSW Phoenix and Adelaide Storm was one of the closest contests of the weekend, with each team securing a win at Sydney Olympic Park.
In the first game on Saturday, the Phoenix took an early lead in front of their home crowd, before a dominant attacking display from the Storm in the second and third set gave South Australia a 2-1 lead. As the name suggests, the Phoenix rose in the fourth set with renewed energy to take the match into a 5th and final set showdown. In what was an intense and difficult first match, NSW Phoenix triumphed to take the game 3-2.
Sunday’s game saw moments of brilliance from both teams, but the Storm were stronger in their service game and NSW were struggling to receive, giving the Adelaide locals the 3-1 victory.
However, as NSW Head Coach Max Gubbiotti said to his players before the match: “this is not about winning and losing, on this journey we are focused on winning and learning.”
Men’s Game 1: NSW 1:3 SA (15-25, 21-25, 25-16, 17-25)
Men’s Game 2: NSW 0:3 SA (35-37, 22-25, 18-25)
The top-of-the-table Men’s Adelaide Storm team have remained undefeated after six games over the first three rounds of the 2022 AVL season.
They took on NSW Phoenix at Sydney Olympic Park over the weekend, and even without captain Nathan Roberts present, the Storm only dropped one set over the weekend.
Saturday’s game started with a few hitting errors from both teams before the Storm found their groove and pulled away with the help of some strong serving by Ryan Scutter at the end of the set. They carried the momentum through set two, before the Phoenix found their fighting spirit in the third, to grab their first set of the weekend 25-16. However the experience of the Storm came through in the fourth and too many errors in attack crept in for the Phoenix, giving the 3-1 win to Adelaide.
Sunday’s match looked like it was going to follow the same pattern as the previous day, with the Phoenix bringing a couple of early hitting errors to give Adelaide a 5-point lead, before some great attack by Reilly Keogh and Tim Taylor brought the team back to 25-all. Both teams held their nerve on a number of occasions to prevent each other from taking the set until finally Regan Fathers put the ball away to finish it at 37-35.
The Phoenix bench created some great atmosphere to bring the crowd on board, and moments of quiet created tension for the Adelaide serve, but the Storm remained calm under pressure and proved a little too efficient for the young Phoenix team, leaving Sydney with 2 wins.
“Every week the boys are getting better and learning what is required to compete at this level,” NSW Phoenix Head Coach Chris Todd said.
“Some great hustle this weekend kept the ball off the ground a lot more than last week, we just need to improve our attack efficiency to make the most of the opportunities we are creating.”
Canberra Heat vs Tasmania Echidnas
Women’s Game 1: ACT 3:0 TAS (25-17, 25-17, 25-9)
Women’s Game 2: ACT 3:0 TAS (26-16, 25-15, 25-18)
Down at the Australian Institute of Sport in the ACT, Canberra Heat hosted the Tasmanian Echidnas for a ‘Pink Round’, with ticket entry fees going to support Breast Cancer Network Australia.
While the crowd and players were Pink hot, it was the Heat that was on fire. Bringing a strong serving game starting with two aces from Captain Georgia Niedermeier, it was a dominant performance from the Heat. Led by some excellent attack from Holly Mallet and blocking pressure from Ella Milne in particular, the Heat won Saturday’s match in straight sets.
Canberra rounded off their weekend in style with another strong performance on Sunday. While Tasmania produced some moments of brilliance, through Captain Thorpe and Lucy Allwright, it was the Heat again who came away with the 3-0 win. For Canberra Wendy Edwards through the middle and Libero’s Jamie Clayden and Lilly Wardleworth were standouts.
Men’s Game 1: ACT 3:0 TAS (25-16, 25-17, 25-22
Men’s Game 2: ACT 2:3 TAS (22-25, 25-23, 25-15, 22-25, 15-18)
The Tasmanian Echidnas secured their first victory of the 2022 AVL season on Sunday, bouncing back from a 3-0 defeat on Saturday to set up a five-set thriller.
In front of a vocal home crowd, on Saturday the Heat kept constant pressure on Tasmania, both from the service line and in the block. Pascal Eckermann and Travis Passier were both strong in attack. With Seth Chen and Nic Borgeaud setting a good all-round game, ACT cruised to a straight-set victory.
Perhaps coming into Sunday’s game a little too confident, the home team received a rude awakening from a refreshed and dominant Tasmanian team. In what many Tasmanian players described as a club-defining win, it was the Echidnas who took a hard-fought epic five-set victory. Captain Josh Thorpe led from the front to bring his less experienced team with him in a historic fight. Jan Jansen also played well for the Echidnas, while for Canberra Matt Kemp played strongly, and Libero Andre Borgeaud stood out in defence and reception.