Scape Australian Volleyball Super League Round 5 Wrap
The fifth and final week of the regular season started with all teams playing for potential finals spots and the cream rose to the top in Adelaide, Sydney and Canberra.
Perth’s men and women went four from four in their clashes with the Storm and Heat on an incredible road trip, while Melbourne also won their men’s and women’s matches away from home in Sydney.
The six matches across the weekend have set the stage for next weekend’s finals in Bendigo, with the Storm men and Steel women scoring top spot on the ladders.
Adelaide Storm v Perth Steel
Adelaide 36ers Arena SA
Men: Perth Steel d Adelaide Storm 3:2 (15-18, 18-17, 18-14, 18-16, 16-18)
When the top two teams in the men’s competition came together in Adelaide on Saturday, only one was going to remain undefeated and in the end it was the visitors who prevailed in a titanic encounter.
In front of a bumper crowd at the Adelaide 36ers Arena it was the Storm who took an arm wrestle of a first set and went within a point of claiming the second. However the Steel were able to come back from 15-17 deficit to square the ledger.
Perth went on to claim the next two sets for the win, however Adelaide’s fifth set triumph ensured they earned a bonus point to hold a 10 point lead at the top of the ladder with Perth still having one game in hand on Sunday.
“The atmosphere was very daunting at the start, I think there was a little bit of nerves, but once we got that under control, got into our game, the game got really easy for us,” said Perth’s Daniel Piggott.
Women: Perth Steel d Adelaide Storm 4:1 (18-13, 16-18, 18-17, 18-3, 18-15)
Adelaide and Perth entered this match sitting in second and fifth respectively, however the result would have major implications for how the table would shape up at the end of the weekend.
The Steel were strong from the outset, and looked good on their way to a win in the first set. Buoyed by the return of Volleyroos Beth Carey and Stef Weiler, the Storm squared the match up 1:1.
The momentum shift came at the end of a close third set when Perth won the 35th and final point to go ahead 2:1
With that confidence, the Steel sprinted to a 18-3 win in the fourth set, tying the biggest set winning margin in this year’s competition. A win in the fifth set took the points margin beyond 20 and Perth took a bonus point from the result and the opportunity to potentially take top spot on the ladder.
“WA has always been a really ‘teamy’ team, we’ve all had each other’s backs and I think that really showed today,” said Perth’s Elysse Hislop.
NSW Phoenix v Melbourne Vipers
Netball Central, Sydney Olympic Park NSW
Men: Melbourne Vipers d NSW Phoenix 3:2 (11-18, 18-13, 16-18, 18-14, 18-15)
NSW Phoenix entered their final match of the regular season with an outside chance of making the finals and couldn’t have had a better start with a dominant first set.
However they would need to remain near perfect and hold off a Vipers side determined to boost their title aspirations as well. Melbourne won the second set, but when NSW won the third, they were still an outside chance of earning enough competition points to go even with the fourth-placed Canberra Heat.
However the Vipers were able to claim the next two sets to win the match, move to third on the table and end the Phoenix’s finals hopes.
Women: Melbourne Vipers d NSW Phoenix 5:0 (18-17, 18-10, 18-10, 18-12, 18-13)
NSW Phoenix went into this match with a mathematical chance of finishing in the top four, however it was Melbourne Vipers who improved their position on the ladder with an emphatic 5:0 win.
The first set went all the way to the 35th point, however that was as close as it got with the Vipers going on to earn a bonus point win and temporarily lift themselves to second place on the ladder, pending Sunday’s Heat-Steel clash.
The Phoenix finished the season in sixth with one win from their five matches.
Canberra Heat v Perth Steel
Lyneham Hockey Centre ACT
Men: Perth Steel d Canberra Heat 4:1 (18-14, 18-11, 18-15, 18-16, 13-18)
Perth Steel went into their final match of the season undefeated but 10 points behind Adelaide Storm and with an opportunity to claim top spot on the ladder.
All looked to be going that way for the visitors as they romped to a four-set lead and a 16 point advantage.
A four-point point winning margin in the final set would take the Steel to top spot, however the Heat were able to claim the final set to leave Perth in second place, and Canberra in fourth.
Women: Perth Steel d Canberra Heat 4:1 (15-18, 18-10, 18-4, 18-11, 18-12)
Perth Steel completed a near-perfect road trip with a 4:1 bonus point win over Canberra Heat, which propelled them into first place on the competition ladder going into the finals.
The visitors dropped the first set by three points, but ran away with the next four sets, making it count when it mattered most. Over the course of their weekend matches, Perth won 14 of their 18 powerplay points, compared to just three in each match from their opposition.
The 18 competition points earned in Adelaide and Canberra took the Steel from fifth to first in less than 24 hours, and they now head to Bendigo as one of the competition favourites.