Canberra was the scene for the first tournament tryout with our new look State Squad. FZ Red and Blue teams travelled to the nation’s capital to play in Canberra Cup on the 13th October hosted by Rebecca Hillier and her crew at the Canberra Volleyball League. With a small tournament in play, the Red and Blue teams were looking to work out their kinks and trials and put all the training from Coach Marie Skelton into practice.
A few last minute adaptions for the Red team saw them playing with only 6 players as Juan Camillo was involved in a car accident in the early hours of Saturday morning. Thankfully he is ok, although his nose was broken. So Red were reduced to no libero with only 6 in playing mode. FZ Blue had more of a full compliment with their full team and were able to put their liberos to good use and have full rotations.
With both teams having never played together, it was a case of figuring out the kinks and where to play who and with what combination. Coach Marie was on her feet all day pacing the side of the court with each game and ensuring there was leadership from the sidelines. It was certainly a learning curve as we experienced having that outside influence who was targetting plays, noting defense strategies and leading the charge in sensible and effective play. Marie certainly had her work cut out for her as we notched up play against two other teams. The toughtest call was where both Red and Blue were playing against each other in a pool game. Friendly competition and strategy was employed and both teams had their moments. Both good and bad. But this is the norm when you first play together and so there were lots of moments of victory combined with lots of moments of some confusion.
All in all the weekend was a good success as Coach Marie got to see how her teams performed under pressure and in the competitive field rather than just being at training. “Volleyball is an errors game and it is ultimately the team that makes less errors that wins the match. Some of us dealt better with that pressure and also there was the element of experience in those situations that showed up” . In terms of results, FZ Blue encountered a tough 3 set bronze playoff in their final game where they began to string some of the elements that Marie has been working on together. The progress of the day saw the Blues begin to get used to foreign rotations and switching between roles to understand where best their strengths lay. Whilst they may not have won their games, they certainly learnt about how to play together at that higher Div 1 level. FZ Blue went through to the Gold Medal Playoff against a younger BHV Colts line up. With only 6 players, the younger team had perhaps more gas in the tank in the final. They were a strong team who had obviously played together for a longer time. The final set of the 2 set final went down to the wire 25-23 and the Reds were on the offensive with some good tactical play being led from Coach Marie. It may have been a little too much to expect to win their first tournament hit out but they came very close and have certainly set up an eagerness to face off against the BHV team in future tournaments.
The weekend has shown how much the Squad needs to come together to be able to be competitive at these levels. The commitment of the teams to ensuring that ‘team play’ is together and supported and that the positional play and training that has been enforced at training can be taken onto the court is paramount. It was exciting to have the squad there supporting each other and trying to help each other perform. That team unity was evident from the start. It’s going to be exciting to see where the squad can go from here and already there is a good understanding that this is a process and that there is much to learn and understand. The squad will continue to learn and train and have their 2nd hitout at the State Cup #6 in 2 weeks time.