The Australian women’s volleyball team kicks off its 2017 FIVB World Grand Prix campaign early Saturday morning in Mexico, with coach Shannon Winzer expecting hr team to be more than competitive this year.
Australia has not won a match in three years of Grand Prix action, but much has changed on the Australian women’s volleyball scene in the past 12 months.
“I think last year we still had a very professional approach to the national team, but this year with more players playing full-time than ever before players are arriving to national team duties in better touch and as a result we have been able to spend more time on offensive and defensive systems,” Winzer said from Mexico this week.
“I think we are more evenly matched with our opponents this year than any other. We have a very strong line up for World Grand Prix, and I don't think we are a team to be taken lightly.
“I don't think there are any easy games, but I think if we play to our full potential we can come away from this weekend with some wins.”
In the past 12 months Volleyball Australia has established the Women’s Centre of Excellence at the AIS, with many of the first round of intakes part of the World Grand Prix team.
Several of Australia’s top female players have also been playing full-time in Europe, and the team will also benefit from the return of Rachel Rourke, Australia’s most accomplished player.
The Volleyroos have had two warm-up matches against Mexico in Aguascalientes this week, winning the first but then losing the second. Winzer said the team had settled well.
“We have been in Mexico since last Friday and have had a solid preparation leading into WGP with two practice matches vs Mexico which we went 1-1,” she said.
“We have settled on a line up for the opening match, I think our starting six offer a lot of experience and you can expect some exciting volleyball tomorrow when we take on Mexico tomorrow morning.”
The Volleyroos will also take on Hungary and Trinidad and Tobago this weekend, before heading to Port of Spain for the second round next weekend.
The team will then return to Canberra to host the Group 3 finals at the AIS later this month.