News

Australia blow lead against Belgium

26 May 2014

VOLLEYBALL: Australian men's volleyball coach Jon Uriarte wants his players to remember the feeling after they threw away a winning opportunity against Belgium in their long-awaited return to the World League.

The Volleyroos are back in the World League after a 15-year absence and preparing to host the finals in Sydney in mid-July, having last played in 1999 in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics.

After being well beaten 3-0 in their first clash with Belgium in Liege on Friday night, the Australians went much closer on Sunday, winning the opening set 25-23 and taking a four-point lead late in the second set.

But some unforced errors and poor decision making let the home side back in and they claimed it 26-24.

Buoyed by a vocal sell-out crowd, the Belgians then took the next two sets 25-23, 25-16 to wrap up the match 3-1.

"What is important is to keep alive their pain," Uriarte said.

"We are here to win matches, to win sets. We did well to win the first set, but we couldn't last mentally. We've got now the next challenge.

"I can't say that we are happy, but we are showing progress, and that encourages everybody."

The Australians went into the second match without two of their most experienced players, captain Aidan Zingel and fellow Olympian Nathan Roberts, who had been struggling with injury.

It allowed Paul Sanderson and Nehemiah Mote to make their starting line-up debuts.

Along with Belgium, the Volleyroos will also play Canada and Finland in the World League, the latter in Canberra on the first weekend of July in their first home game.

Australia are guaranteed a place in the finals after Sydney was granted the right to host the event.

AAP