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Volleyroos lose World League openers

26 May 2014

VOLLEYBALL: Australia has had a tough start to its return to the World Volleyball League, losing two tight matches against hosts Belgium.

Australia falls to Belgium again

Australian men’s volleyball coach Jon Uriarte wants his players to remember the ‘pain’, after they threw away a winning opportunity against Belgium in the World League on the weekend.

The Volleyroos won their opening set in Liege 25-23, and then had a four-point lead late in the second set.

But some unforced errors and poor decision making let the home side back into the set, Australia eventually losing 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, to follow on from their dominant 3-nil victory on Friday night.

“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 match without two of their most experienced players, captain Aidan Zingel and fellow Olympian Nathan Roberts.

Both had been struggling with injury in the lead-up to the weekend, and although they played on Friday night, Uriarte decided not to risk them for the second match.

Their absence provided an opportunity for two younger squad members, Paul Sanderson and Nehemiah Mote, to make their starting line-up debuts.

Both returned solid performances, with Sanderson close to Australia’s best player on the night.

Australia is back in the World League after a 15-year absence, having last played in 1999 in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics.

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

Australia is guaranteed a place in the finals after Sydney was granted the right to host the event in mid-July.


Australia loses opener

Australia has had a disappointing start to its return to the World Volleyball League, losing it's opening match against Belgium in straight sets.

It's a tough re-introduction to the World League for the Volleyroos, who last played in the prestigious competition 15 years ago.

"We did match it with them, now we need to win," coach Jon Uriarte said after the game.

"We already know we can build from here. We'll be doing better and better, I'm 100 per cent sure. We did a few very good things during the match, we just need to build from there.

"I think the next match already we will see something better."

The opening set was a thriller, with Australia enjoying a two-point lead for long periods, before eventually losing 30-28.

That result lifted the capacity crowd, who had come to the Kortrijk Stadium to watch Belgium play their first ever World League match.
The home side dominated the second set, winning 25-19, and then withstood a late challenge from the Volleyroos to win the third set, and the match, 25-21.

Captain Aidan Zingel, who along with fellow Volleyroo veterans Nathan Roberts and Adam White struggled with injury in the lead-up to last night's match, said he wasn't overly disappointed by the loss.

"I'm not too worried, we didn't get the result obviously but it was a great experience and learning curve as a team for how we're going to approach this World League," he said.

"We started off incredibly strong, but fell away a bit as the Belgians started to get into the game and found their rhythm. We kind of lost ours, but we showed many good things we can take away and I think it will be a whole different game on Sunday."

The two teams will now head to the Belgian city of Liege for game two on Sunday.

Along with the 30th ranked Belgium, Australia will also play world number 11 Canada and 37th seeded Finland in the home-and-away format.

The first home match will be against Finland in Canberra on the weekend of July 7/8.

Ross Solly
Volleyball Australia

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