The annual VACT Good Neighbour Tournament was held over the 25th/26th November in Canberra and it was as usual, a large scale event that saw over 4 teams of Freezoners competing at the Australian Institute of Sport. 2 full days of volleyball action and lots of ups and downs and triumphs for all Freezone teams but a wonderful representation of the cluh at the largest Volleyball Tournament in Australia.
The State Squad were eagerly represented by new look FZ Blue/Red teams with new players being added at the last minute to fill in for spaces that were left vacant at the last minute. Coach Marie was scrambling to try and fill positions and have full teams for the competition and was nearly forced to resort to combining the teams. Thankfully a few eager players were able to volunteer and two full teams were lodge. FZ Red competed in Division 2 amongst a very strong pool and experienced teams. The Division 2 was the most popular division with 18 teams in the draw and FZ Red acquitted themselves very well with a strong performance in the pools at the beginning of the competition. At the outset they were competitive and perhaps a little slow to get off the mark, they dropped a set against the team from Kelso who actually ended up winning the pool and progressing to the finals.
It showed how you cannot afford to take the pressure off in any game as the Reds were left feeling that they should really have won that game outright. Their position on Day 2 was 3rd but they only lost one game in the pool play section. Their crossover game was against a tough team from UNSW. The game was a to and fro affair with 8-8 in the third set when the whistle blow. Unfortunately for Red, they lost by 1 point on a point count-back but certainly did themselves proud by putting together good combinations and working hard to maintain their level of play at this level. Sensible play and hard fought rallying worked for them in the end and you could see the consolidation of training that has come from the past 10 weeks of squad training under Coach Marie.
Division 3 was a Freezone Favourite with Free Punch (combination of Free Spirit and Spiked Punch) competing alongside FZ Blue from the State Squad. Both teams had strong performances Finishing 2nd and 1st respectively in their pools. Indeed it was an all Freezone Semi Final with the two teams facing off to try and make it to the Gold medal final. It was a to and fro affair in the final which was hard fought with FZ Blue almost taking the match out in the 2nd set only to have Free Punch claw their way back into the game and force the match into a third set. The final set was a test of who had the legs to finish strong and it was a new look FZ Blue that triumped strongly in the end as they got away to an early lead and just kept the momentum up and finished looking VERY strongly in the 3rd set.
The gold medal final saw FZ Blue come up against the ACERS from Sydney with a very strong, young and competitive team in the gold medal match. This was definetly FZ Blue’s day. It was most exciting to be sitting court-side and watching this game as both teams (and their cheer sq
uads) were in full voice with a battle of wills as much as a battle of volleyball. The Blues knew they had to play hard and strong in this game if they were going to challenge the “Filo team”. It was obvious from the outset that Blue had to maintain a positive mindset and not let the loss of points get to them. This they achieved with great aplomb. Despite often being outmatched in skill, the Blues held fast and played their own game, passing incredibly well which allowed them to run good offensive play. A real deciding factor. They took the first set in a flurry of strong, accurate serving, great scrambling and crushing offensives from all 3 positions in the front court. They certainly shook the other team who quickly realised that this was not going to be an easy win.
Both teams came out in the next set firing and the passion on both sides of the net was palpable. It was a rapid to and fro affair with ACERS taking out the set and bringing the game into an even set. The game ensued with players from each side having to dive and dig deep in an effort to keep the ball alive and in play. Dips and troughs ensued and team spirit was the one thing that kept everyone going. The fitness of the crew proved a vital asset, with no subs to call on, every player in the FZ team had to continue to dig deep to keep the momentum. Laughter and chanting became a big part of the crews ability to suck it in and keep digging. The final result saw Acers take the GOLD but the FZ crew felt so elated and excited and blessed with having performed a gruelling and wonderfully fulfilling game for a silver medal.
The end of the tournament saw some great performances and happy faces. The club was once again very well represented and received the accolades of having competed intensly over the 2 days. As always it was a long and weary drive back to Sydney in preparation for the end of the year. The crew certainly did well and we look forward to another great year in 2018 for the State Squad and the club in general.