Melbourne’s Uni Blues women have broken their own Australian Volleyball League championship record by claiming their fifth straight AVL title, and their sixth overall, this afternoon at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
The Blues faced surprise packets the WA Pearls in the final but were rarely troubled taking the Gold Medal in straight sets 3-0.
Blues coach Steve Holder only took the reins this year after the highly successful Shannon Winzer reluctantly left the helm to take on the prestigious national coaching job full time.
“I really think Blind Freddy could have coached this team, they are that talented and that experienced but all credit to them they just did what they were asked and just listened and the rest is history” said Holder.
The delighted coach sensed a record fifth straight title was possible after seeing his charges dig out of early trouble during yesterday’s semifinal against the Sydney Amazons.
“When we were 19-12 down in the first set I thought it could have been interesting but they fought back to win in straight sets and I thought if they’ve got the strength to do that they’ve got the strength to do anything”
The Queensland Pirates also went back to back claiming their fourth AVL title in five years to reaffirm their status as the Australian Volleyball League’s best men’s team.
“Everyone played their role, we pretty well outplayed the WA Hornets in every spot, they were a bit taller than us but we were determined to play strong defense. We couldn’t have done much better than 3-0. We had a great season, we worked really hard and we are going to just enjoy it now.” said Pirates coach Craig Marshall.
It was an historic day for Volleyball WA with their men’s and women’s teams making the gold medal matches together for the first time. While disappointed they didn’t win a gold medal, the signs are positive for the game in the West.
On a big day of finals action in Melbourne the men’s Bronze medal match kicked off proceedings with the Canberra Heat defeating the Adelaide Storm 3-1.
“A win is always great. It’s always hard to come back from a loss in the semis and lift yourself for the Bronze medal match but we managed to regroup overnight and get the win today so we we’ll take whatever we get.” said Heat coach Les Young.
The women’s Bronze medal match was the toughest contest of the day, with hot favourites, the Queensland Pirates, pushed all the way in a grueling five setter by relative new comers the Sydney Amazons.
“We knew the Amazons would be a tough challenge, so for us to stay calm and stay focused and do what we needed to do showed a level of maturity that I’m really proud of” said QLD coach Rhiannon Tooker.
Pirates captain Jess Ryder said finishing the season with a win is a nice consolation.
“The Amazons were really tough. So we are really happy with the Bronze, we didn’t have the result we wanted yesterday but coming away with a win on the last game of the season is awesome.”.
Queensland Pirates captain Andrew Maclean was awarded MVP of the finals series for the men while Volleyroo Hannah Martin made back to back finals MVP awards for the women.