Victoria’s Uni Blues, unbeatable in the women’s Australian Volleyball League during the past four seasons, will face their toughest test in recent history when the 2017 competition begins this month.

Several of the star players who have helped steer Uni Blues to four consecutive titles have gone, including former Volleyroos captain Shae Sloane.

But the biggest impact for the UNI Blues may be the departure of coach, Shannon Winzer.

Winzer has relocated to Canberra in her role as coach of the Helloworld Travel Volleyroos and the Centre of Excellence squad.

COE will be the new team on the block this season, and stand a strong chance of winning the competition in its debut year with a squad that includes several Uni Blues players.

In the men’s competition, the Queensland Pirates and the Canberra Heat are once again expected to be the competition leaders, with the Pirates hoping to secure their fourth title in five years.

The only blot on the copybook of the Queenslanders came in 2015, when they were surprisingly beaten by Canberra in the final in Melbourne. The Pirates have been able to build their imposing record around a very stable playing squad.

The first round of the 2017 season begins this weekend, with the Centre of Excellence men’s squad taking on the Pirates in Canberra.