Scape Australian Volleyball Super League Round 5 Preview
The final round of the home or away season is upon us and every team in the Scape Australian Volleyball Super League is still fighting for a place in the finals in Bendigo on 16-17 September.
Each fixture this weekend will have ramifications on the make-up of the top four, with only three teams currently assured of a place in the semis.
All matches will be streamed live via SBS On Demand or Cluch TV.
SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER
Adelaide Storm v Perth Steel
Adelaide 36ers Arena SA
5:00pm ACST / 3:30pm AWST (Men followed by Women)
SBS On Demand
Adelaide and Perth faced off in both the men’s and women’s semi-finals last year and two more important matches will play out on Saturday evening.
Adelaide Storm’s women’s team currently sit second on the ladder but are not yet assured a finals place due to the tightness of the competition. And while a loss may not be enough to drop the Storm out of the top four, the equation for Perth is more straightforward.
While the Steel need to rely on the teams ahead of them not gaining many round five points, they also need to win as many sets as possible to stay in finals contention. Their task will be made tougher with the Storm’s lineup bolstered by Beth Carey and Stef Weiler who are back from the Volleyroos’ Asian Championships campaign.
Last season the Storm and Steel women split their regular season matches however it was Perth who prevailed in their semi-final on the way to finishing runners up.
The men also split their round six matches last year, and it was Adelaide who won their semi-final before going down to Canberra in the final.
Both men’s sides have already booked their place in Bendigo, undefeated coming into the final weekend of the regular season and with a points buffer large enough not to fall out of the top four.
Adelaide and Perth men have dropped just three sets each over the course of the season, however the Steel have a match in hand with a double-header this weekend.
Perth libero Lewis McDonald has featured in the Scape Team of the Week twice from three matches this year, while Adelaide duo Brendan Clewes and Nathan Roberts have earned selection two and three times, respectively.
NSW Phoenix v Melbourne Vipers
Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park NSW
6:30pm AEST (Men followed by Women)
Melbourne Vipers currently hold down top four positions in both competitions but will travel to Sydney to face NSW Phoenix teams desperate to make a last gasp attempt to qualify for the semi-finals.
In the women’s competition, the Vipers sit third and cannot be overhauled by NSW, however Canberra and Perth sit just behind with Perth also having two matches to score points this weekend. The Phoenix are a mathematical possibility of making the finals, but must win all five sets and hope other results go their way.
Last season the women split their round six matches, each scoring a 3:1 win, however it was the Vipers who had the more successful season overall, ultimately finishing third.
Volleyroos setter Laura Reeks is back from the Asian Championships to strengthen the Phoenix squad, while the Vipers will look to Rochelle Sison-Lim for inspiration with the libero delivering an eye-catching 2023 campaign so far.
When the Phoenix and Vipers men’s teams met last year, NSW took away a pair of wins however neither side featured in the finals series.
This year the Vipers men are clinging to the final place in the top 4 with a 2-2 win-loss record. The Phoenix sit nine points back, and cannot afford to drop a set if they are to overhaul Melbourne and claim the final spot in the top four.
Both men’s sides come into the match on the back of round three victories, and with so much on the line an intense showdown is expected.
SUNDAY 10 SEPTEMBER
Canberra Heat v Perth Steel
Lyneham Hockey Centre ACT
2:00pm AEST / 12:00PM AWST (Men followed by Women)
The final fixtures of the regular season take place in Canberra where the Heat host Perth Steel.
Canberra currently sit ahead of Perth on the women’s ladder, however their finals place is tenuous as Perth have two matches this weekend. Just a single set for Perth in their Saturday clash with Adelaide will be enough to push them ahead of the Heat, meaning this match will definitely have implications on the make-up of the top four.
These sides shared a win apiece in 2022, however it was the Steel who went on to have the stronger season, eventually finishing runners-up while Canberra failed to make the finals.
Both women’s sides have won two matches so far this season, with both teams defeating Melbourne and NSW which may provide an indication as to how close this match will be.
In the men’s competition, second-placed Perth currently sit four points ahead of third-placed Canberra on the ladder, however that margin could increase following the Steel’s match on Saturday in Adelaide.
The Steel are currently undefeated following home wins against NSW Phoenix , Queensland Pirates and Melbourne Vipers, while the Heat hold a 2-2 record with victories over NSW and Queensland.
Perth opposite Tom Heptinstall has been a powerhouse for the Steel so far this season, while Canberra’s Nic Borgeaud is the only setter in the competition to feature twice in the Scape Team of the Week.