The Australian men’s volleyball team will head into next weekend’s FIVB World League Group Two finals on the Gold Coast full of confidence after finishing their preliminary campaign with a 3-1 win over Turkey in China on Sunday.
The result means the Volleyroos have qualified in their own right to contest next weekend’s finals, even though as host country they were guaranteed a start.
Australia finished with six wins from their nine matches, finishing only behind Slovenia (eight wins) and The Netherlands (seven wins).
Coach Mark Lebedew said Gold Coast fans can expect a strong showing from his team next weekend.
“On the Gold Coast fans will see a team that plays with and for each other and gives themselves a chance to win every match they play in,” he said.
After winning a close opening set and then losing the second, the helloworld Volleyroos found their form in the final two sets to account for Turkey 26-24, 20-25, 25-21, 25-19.
Ultra-consistent captain Paul Carroll once again showed his skills to finish with a game-high 20 points, while Luke Smith finished with 17.
“The group has grown a lot in the last month,” Lebedew, who only took over as Australian coach late last year, said.
“We showed a lot of fight and character to win what was in essence a 'dead rubber'. We were able to win six matches against a variety of opponents in three different countries using a lot of different lineups.
“It was very pleasing.”
Lebedew said he was pleased his team fought out their final match to the end.
“Our goal when we began the qualification was to advance into the final,” he said.
“Although we are hosts, we have achieved our goal and it is a happy end. Both teams did not play with maximum morale and mentality.
“I am happy that we played hard when we met difficulties in this game.”
The line-up for next weekend is still to be confirmed, although it is expected Japan will join Australia, Slovenia and The Netherlands.
Previously the winner of the Group Two finals would earn automatic promotion to Group One next year, although it is expected a change of format will be announced soon.