AVL Round 4 Weekend Wrap
Adelaide Storm vs Canberra Heat
Women’s Game 1: SA 3:2 ACT (23-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-15, 15-11)
Women’s Game 2: SA 3:0 ACT (25-21, 25-18, 25-17)
The Adelaide Storm played their first home games on the weekend, meeting Canberra Heat at the Lights Community and Sports Centre in Lightsview. Supported by their home-crowd advantage, the Women’s Storm won back-to-back games, with Women’s Volleyroos Stef Weiler returning to the AVL court for the first time this season. Weiler was a stand-out performer for the Storm across the two games, dominating alongside Beth Carey with kill shots and ace serves at crucial times to secure sets.
Both teams were relentless in their first encounter, the lead constantly changing in a series of tight sets which culminated with an exciting fifth set, taken by the Storm to close out the match.
The South Australian team entered Sunday’s match with more confidence after their hard-fought victory on the previous day, and were able to get the job done in straight sets.
Outside hitter Rebecca Reeve had a superb weekend on court and was instrumental in the Storms win. After the second match, she said their double victory gave the team a confidence boost heading into the second half of the season.
“It was great to finally get to play in front of a home crowd! This weekend was huge for us, it felt like we really started to find our groove as a team on the court,” she said.
“Lucy [Ambagtsheer] ran a great offence which opened up all of our hitting options and gave opportunities for some of our big hitters, Stef and Beth, to really unleash. Getting the two wins over the weekend really gave us a confidence boost going into the back end of the season!”
Men’s Game 1: SA 3:1 ACT (25-11, 25-22, 18-25, 25-22)
Men’s Game 2: SA 3:1 ACT (25-17, 23-25, 25-19, 31-29)
The Men’s Adelaide Storm remained undefeated after eight matches across four rounds, and extended their lead at the top of the leaderboard claiming two more victories, both for 3-1, over the Men’s Canberra Heat.
Both teams wowed the crowd at The Lights with impressive power hitting, however the Storm’s wealth of experience, led by captain Nathan Roberts, often proved the difference in play. Canberra was able to challenge the Storm by taking the lead on numerous occasions and even winning a set in each match, but it wasn’t enough to topple the AVL favourites off their perch.
Storm Head Coach Derek Slater congratulated Canberra on bringing their A-game to Adelaide.
“It was great to play in front of our home crowd. Canberra played a high level of volleyball that had us having to produce some of our best volleyball to be able to come away with the wins,” he said.
“Both teams were consistently putting each other under pressure through high-quality power attacking. It was our ability to win the big points late in sets that made the difference.”
WA Steel vs NSW Phoenix
Women’s Game 1: WA 3:0 NSW (25-19, 25-23, 25-22)
Women’s Game 2: WA 3:1 NSW (24-26, 25-17, 25-20, 25-18)
Both the Women’s WA Steel and Women’s NSW Phoenix came into their round 4 clash with three wins on the board, for a contest that was bound to be close. The Steel made the most of their home-crowd advantage in Perth to take victories on both Saturday and Sunday, only dropping one set over the weekend.
With this performance the Steel announced themselves as legitimate title contenders, sitting only two points behind the Melbourne Vipers on the leaderboard and one point ahead of the Storm, in third.
Steel Captain Shelby Maher said the team has been developing well over the first half of the season.
“I’m very happy with the effort the girls put in on the weekend against a tough NSW squad. We were able to find ways to adapt to a smart offensive team and come through with two wins,” she said.
“It’s exciting to see the girls grow as individuals and as a team as we move through the season. We now have a well earned break this weekend before we are back again to compete in Adelaide.”
Men’s Game 1: WA 3:0 NSW (25-21, 25-22, 25-21)
Men’s Game 2: WA 3:1 NSW (21-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-22)
The Men’s WA Steel bounced back from their double defeat in QLD last weekend to secure back-to-back wins at home in Perth, advancing into second place on the overall leaderboard on 16 points, eight points behind leaders Adelaide Storm.
Like their female counterparts, the Men’s Steel only dropped one set across the two days, and Captain Kable Monck confirmed that the weekend’s victories demonstrate the “strength and depth” of the Steel squad.
“The team was very happy with putting two wins on the board. It wasn’t easy and NSW did throw a good challenge at us, but we were able to show the strength and depth of our squad and that we are strong contenders this season,” Monck said.
“We are now resting and recharging ahead of our bye weekend and will be ready to take on the last stretch of games before finals.”
Tasmania Echidnas v Melbourne Vipers
Women’s Game 1: TAS 0:3 VIC (15-25, 15-25, 12-25)
Women’s Game 2: TAS 0:3 VIC (13-25, 6-25, 25-27)
The Women’s Melbourne Vipers were dominant during round 4 of the AVL, defeating the Tasmanian Echidnas twice in straight sets. Strong setting by Viper’s Kelly Lean provided middle Monique Stojanovic and outside hitters Molly Richardson and Gwen Thornton plenty of opportunities to keep the Echidnas’ defence under pressure. That lethal combination was on full display in the second set of Sunday’s match, with Stojanovic and Lean leading the Vipers to claim a 25-6 victory.
Echidnas’ Kaitlin Palfrey was strong through the middle, backed by strong serving from Lucy Allwright. Triin Thorpe and Natalia Ribeiro were also consistent throughout the weekend, but that was not enough for the Tassie side.
Men’s Game 1: TAS 3:0 VIC (25-21, 26-24, 25-21)
Men’s Game 2: TAS 2:3 VIC (20-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-15, 13-15)
Saturday’s men’s match between Vipers and Echidnas was a reversal of the women’s, with the Tasmanian team claiming the win in straight sets.
The Echidnas were led strongly by Josh Thorpe and Jan Jansen, while young gun setter Joe Kelly set cleverly throughout. Once again Kai Ibbott and Sam Wardlaw proved their hitting ability and Nick Jones was almost unbeatable in the backcourt. Victoria’s Nick Boesten proved deadly through the middle when the opportunity arose, but overall the defence of the Echidnas proved too strong for the Vipers.
Sunday’s game saw a much hungrier Vipers team take to the court, determined to leave Tasmania with their first AVL points on the board. The Vipers came out and stunned the Echidnas early with excellent hitting from Liam van Gemst and Changmin Lee, while inconsistent serving from Tasmania and front court pressure allowed Melbourne to take the first two sets.
This didn’t dampen the Echidnas spirit, with coach John Young making some subtle changes in the third set which lifted the team. Bailey Nelson came on and electrified the group with the second libero, Ben Althaus. The duo managed to ignite the flame of the Echidnas, who went on to take the next two sets and level up the game.
The decider didn’t disappoint, with the Vipers setter using Captain Nick Boesten and big hitter Liam van Gemst to good effect. Strong defence from the Echidnas pushed the game all the way, but in the end it was the Vipers who got their first win of the season at 15-13.