Uni Blues looking for fourth title in Australian final
Lausanne, Switzerland, December 3, 2016 – The Uni Blues have survived a major scare to book their place in Sunday’s women’s final of the 2016 Australian Volleyball League and a possible fourth consecutive domestic title.
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And for the fourth year in a row, the Queensland Pirates will take on the Canberra Heat in the men’s gold-medal match after both posted impressive wins in Saturday’s semifinals.
But on a mostly one-sided day, it was the match between the Blues and the new team in the AVL competition, the Sydney Amazons, that was the stand-out.
The Amazons have been impressive in their debut season, finishing second behind the Queensland Pirates in the Eastern Conference.
But it was expected they would struggle against a rampant Blues side, a team stacked with Volleyroos who did not lose a match all season.
The first two sets went to script, with the Blues in control, but then the match took a shift in the third.
The Amazons, with Sydney 2000 Olympian Christie Mokotupu in control, took the next two sets to level up the match and force the game to a fifth-set decider.
Blues coach Shannon Winzer, who is also the Volleyroos coach, called upon her experienced players in the fifth, and they didn’t let her down.
In the end, the victory was built around solid performances from Rhiannon Watt, Jamie-Lee Morrow, Hannah Martin and Shae Sloane.
The Blues will take on the Qld Pirates for the 2016 title, with the Pirates looking in good touch with a 3-0 win over Southern Conference runners-up the WA Pearls.
The Pirates were well served by Volleyroo Jess Ryder and Jess Ngauamo, while fellow Volleyroo Jennifer Sadler was solid for the Pearls.
Australia’s women’s team will be competing in Group 3 of the FIVB World Grand Prix next year and will host the first round from June 10 to 12.
In the men’s competition, the Qld Pirates and the Canberra Heat will renew their rivalry in Sunday afternoon’s gold-medal match after the Pirates disposed of Victoria’s VVA Vultures and the Heat were too strong for the Adelaide Storm, both teams winning 3-0.
Last year the Heat shocked the Pirates to deny them a hat trick of AVL titles, but the Pirates have had the better of the Canberra team this season, finishing ahead of the ACT team in the Eastern Conference.
The Pirates were well served on Saturday by internationals Will Mercer and Ben Bell, while the Heat had good service from 2012 Olympian Travis Passier and captain Andre Borgeaud.
The Adelaide Storm and the VVA Vultures will play off for the bronze. Both teams played in the Southern Conference this season, with the Storm finishing well on top.
The men’s Volleyroos will be in Group 2 in next year’s FIVB World League, playing their Intercontinental Round matches in Slovakia, Finland and China.
SUNDAY’S LINE-UP (All times AESST)
9:30am – Women’s bronze-medal match, WA Pearls v Sydney Amazons.
11:30am – Men’s bronze-medal match, Adelaide Storm v VVA Vultures.
1:30pm – Women’s gold-medal match, Uni Blues v Qld Pirates
5pm – Men’s gold-medal match, Qld Pirates v Canberra Heat.