AVL Round 5 preview – Storm and Vipers ones to beat
With three rounds to go before the 2022 AVL Finals, it’s time to keep a close eye on the standings as the battle for a top-4 finish intensifies. The WA Steel get a bye this week, but with two teams still undefeated and two more still looking to put their first points on the board, there is plenty to fight for, in another exciting weekend of AVL action with all matches streamed live and exclusive via Cluch TV.
Adelaide Storm v Queensland Pirates
Last week Adelaide confirmed that they are (almost?) unstoppable, sweeping the Heat 4-0 across the two categories and getting an additional boost from playing in front of their home crowd. The Men’s Storm are now 8-0, leading the league with an 8-point advantage over the Steel and almost certain of playing in the Finals. Still, the Pirates had a week off to prepare for the clash and their 5-1 record is quite impressive, so they’re in the best position to mount a challenge to the league’s leaders.
In the women’s tournament the Pirates have been struggling at times this season and they lost both games at home before the bye week. The focus in Queensland is on development and the Pirates’ emerging talents could find chemistry at any time, but the Adelaide women’s side is in form and playing at the Lights Community and Sports Centre will be hard for everybody this year
Tasmania Echidnas v NSW Phoenix
The men’s Echidnas proved their club-defining win in Canberra during round 3 was no accident and were happy to repeat the feat at home against the Melbourne Vipers last week, before conceding a loss in a tight five-setter. Captain Josh Thorpe’s side don’t appear to be resting on their laurels and will be a tough opponent for a NSW Phoenix team that is still winless this season.
The situation is the opposite on the women’s side, with the Echidnas looking to put their first points on the board. NSW has looked the better team so far and they are only one point behind fourth-placed Heat in the league’s standings. With three rounds to play – and Canberra yet to have their bye round – the Phoenix will travel to Tasmania with their sights set on securing a top-four finish and a spot in the 2022 AVL Finals.
Melbourne Vipers v Canberra Heat
The Melbourne Vipers women’s team might not have the big lead Adelaide was able to build in the men’s standings, but with a 6-0 record and only one set dropped in their first six AVL games, they’re not an opponent you’d want to face at this stage of the season, especially on the road. The Heat will hope a week off might have dampened the Vipers’ momentum and they will try hard to defend their fourth spot in the standings from Phoenix and Pirates – all trailing within three points.
The Men’s Vipers return to their home court with renewed enthusiasm after taking their first win of the season last week in Tasmania. Canberra lost twice in Adelaide, but they certainly showed character putting up a good fight all the way to the decider on Saturday. If the Heat can find the serving game and blocking pressure which netted them two wins against the Echidnas in round 3, they might pose a serious threat in Melbourne.
BYE: WA Steel