Steel, Pirates book their ticket to the Final

Steel, Pirates book their ticket to the Final

Table-topping Perth Steel and defending champions Queensland Pirates will do battle for the Scape Australian Volleyball Super League following straight set semi-final victories today.

Both sides showed why they filled the top two positions on the ladder following the regular season, delivering strong performances en route to Sunday’s final in Bendigo.

The showdown will be a rematch of the 2022 Australian Volleyball League decider which the Pirates won in a come-from-behind five-set epic.

Perth Steel d Adelaide Storm 3:0 (20-18, 18-10, 18-15)

Perth Steel became the first team to book their place in the Scape Australian Volleyball Super League final with a straight sets victory over the Adelaide Storm.

Having defeated Adelaide 4:1 just seven days ago on their home court, Perth knew that result would count for little and came out swinging from the opening point.

The first set was a dramatic affair with the scoreboard level at 13-all after powerplays were enacted back-to-back.

The two sides then traded points through to a Perth set point at 17-16, however Adelaide won the next two to earn their own set point.

Perth were able to even it up at 18-all before a marathon 37th point of the set went the Steel’s way. They made no mistake with their second set point to go 1:0 up.

The second set was the Elysse Hislop show, with the Perth middle blocker dominating on both sides of the net. The Steel opened up a big advantage, and with neither side willing to burn a powerplay, Perth won the second set 18-10.

With nothing to lose in the third, Adelaide used a powerplay while trailing 5-8 but were only able to score in one double-point rally, keeping the deficit at three. Steel coach Pauline Manser went straight on the attack by calling a powerplay of her own, however it was Adelaide who built momentum, winning seven of the next nine points to even the match up at 14-all.

That sparked the Steel into gear, and they reeled off three of the next four points to take their place in the decider.

“We’ve worked so hard to be in this position,” said Hislop. “We had a bit of a shaky start, found our groove, won the points we needed to a come away with 3-0.

“I think at the start of the season we definitely weren’t at our best and at the moment we are at our best and we still have more to give so tomorrow will be a really awesome game.”

Going in to tomorrow’s final, Hislop is confident the Steel can keep their momentum going and finish on top.

“I’m really excited – it’s been a long time coming, and honestly it’ll mean the world if we bring home gold… I mean when we bring home gold!” 

Queensland Pirates v Melbourne Vipers 3:0 (18-13, 18-12, 19-17)

The Pirates gained the edge earlier on and led the opening set with a small margin until the latter stages, eventually opening up a commending to lead to take it 18-13.

It was a similar tale in the second with Queenssland establishing a three point advantage when both teams called a powerplay at the same time.

While the tactical call could have closed the match right up for the Vipers, the Pirates won two of the next three points for a 15-10 lead and it wasn’t long before Scarlett Rudder delivered a thunderous finish to claim the set 18-12.

The Pirates worked their way to an 11-7 lead in the third and looked to put the foot to the floor by taking the powerplay. However the Vipers showed true grit to not only win the next three points, but claimed two of their own powerplay points to lead the Pirates by two.

On the back of some inspiring play from Giorgia Todesco, the Vipers found themselves two points away from taking the third set with a 16-13 lead.

The Pirates didn’t drop their heads, taking the next two points before Lucy Watkins denied the Vipers a set point with an audacious stretch defensive play to not keep her side in a point they eventually won to even it up at 16-all.

The Vipers eventually won themselves a set point but they could not capitalise, Queensland taking the next three points to keep their title defence on track.  

Pirates captain Kylee White said she was proud of her side’s ability to stick to their guns, overcome the hurdles they faced to get the result they were after.

 “We kind of focused on if we made an error, it’s alright,” she said. “In the season when we played them we got caught up, kind of dwelled on it. This time we stuck to our game plan.

“We tried to regroup in our little huddles. We just said ‘reset, move on to the next one.”

Despite going down to the Steel in round two, White is hopeful the Pirates can hit back and take back-to-back titles.

“I’m excited – Perth is a really tough team to beat, even last year,” said White. “It’s not going to be easy – I think they’re going to give everything they have as well, so as long as we stick to our game plan we’ll be maybe able to take it again.”

Sunday 17 September – Red Energy Arena, Bendigo VIC

Third place playoff

Melbourne Vipers v Adelaide Storm
Previous meeting: Rd 1 – Vipers d Storm 4:1 (18-14, 13-18, 18-14, 18-17, 18-17)


Perth Steel v Queensland Pirates
Previous meeting: Rd 2 – Steel d Pirates 3:2 (18-14, 18-9, 17-18, 18-16, 17-18)

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