Photo: Inspirational Volleyroos Captain Paul Carroll
Australia's Helloworld Travel Volleyroos may have been defeated 3-0 (25-16, 26-24, 25-23) by world champions Poland in their final Volleyball Nations League match at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena but they won a whole lot of respect.
The Aussies, out of finals contention, were looking to finish their five week campaign on a high but they faced a highly motivated Poland team who were desperate to defeat Australia to ensure they would play finals in Lille, France less than two weeks away (July 4 - 8).
Coming into the final week on a four game winning streak and playing at home the Volleyroos had high hopes of upsetting the plans of genuine super powers of world volleyball Brazil, Argentina and Poland.
The class of all three nations was there for all to see however as they brought their very best against a courageous Australian team who showed they definitely belong on the world stage.
“The result was disappointing but the performance was pretty good. It was our best of the weekend and that was important, it shows how much we still have to do before world championships, but Im pleased we played somewhere close to our best at home in front of our fans.” Said Volleyroos Coach Mark Lebedew.
After being steam rolled in the first set 25-16 by Poland the second set could easily have gone to the Australians as they fought back to hit the lead late in the set but they just couldn’t finish it off with the world champions coming over the top of the Aussies to take it 26-24.
Down two sets to nil against one of the best teams in the world was always going to be a hard climb back. Captain Paul Carroll was swinging his left arm spikes with all he had and despite being the games top scorer for either side (15 points) it still wasn't enough.
Australia lost no friends and earned plenty of respect from the Volleyball world with their overall performances across the five weeks of the Volleyball Nations League.
Event organisers can also take a bow as more than 13,000 fans that turned up over the three days got their money's worth, witnessing not only a great atmosphere of pumping music with DJs but also some high octane volleyball from the most skilled players on the planet.
“Its great to be here, the guys were pumped to come to Melbourne, maybe they were a bit too pumped in the end, but it was great to be here I hope the Volleyball fans really enjoyed the weekend and we can do it again soon.” Said Lebedew.
The Australians will now take a short break before heading into camp on the Gold Coast to prepare for the world championships in Italy and Bulgaria in September.
“Lots to look forward they’re a great group of guys, its important to them how they represent their country, family and friends, they’ve done a great job of that over the last five weeks but we haven’t got to where we want to go, we still have more left in us.” Said Lebedew.
You get the feeling this Volleyroos team has some special times ahead.