The Australian women’s volleyball team has finished the 2017 Asian Volleyball Championships in tenth place, a solid performance after the team’s sluggish start to the competition.
The Helloworld Travel Volleyroos were handed a horror draw in Manila, put in a group with Olympic gold medallists China and world number six, Japan, and struggled to match it with both teams in their pool play.
But the team came into their own in the play-offs, posting wins against Maldives, Iran and New Zealand, before losing the play-off for ninth to Iran in a five-set struggle, 25-19, 18-25, 25-20, 22-25, 10-15.
Helloworld Travel Volleyroos coach, Shannon Winzer, was scathing in her assessment of her team’s performance against China, and the stern words seemed to have the desired effect.
"Our team play improved over the course of the competition,” Winzer said.
“We were happy with how we attacked and our level of aggression on the block, however consistency in reception was an issue throughout and made it difficult for us to keep leads."
The Volleyroos were missing two of their most consistent players in Manila, Rachel Rourke and Karley Hynes, but several of the younger players took the opportunity to step up.
Winzer believes the team will continue to improve. The women’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS in Canberra is still not one year old, and this year’s team contained only two players who are part-time.
“Our goal for the program is to make it into the top eight in Asia by 2019, and to do this we need to continue to develop our players so that they can take up professional playing contracts and do what we can to support their careers as professional athletes,” Winzer said.
“In 2017/18 we expect six or seven players playing professionally, which is an increase from five last year.
“By 2019 we aim to have 10-12 playing overseas professionally.”
The next challenge for the Helloworld Travel women Volleyroos will be the Asian World Championship qualifiers in Kazakhstan in September.
Australia has been drawn in a group with China, Chinese Taipei, Fiji and hosts Kazakhstan.