Australia’s new women’s indoor volleyball captain, Beth Carey, believes the Volleyroos have never been better prepared for a World Grand Prix season and is confident of a strong showing over the coming month.
The Volleyroos left Canberra on Friday bound for Mexico for round one of the Grand Prix season, and will then head to Trinidad and Tobago for week two.
The team will then return to Canberra to host the Group Three finals, involving Australia and the remaining three top ranked World Grand Prix teams.
It’s Australia’s fourth year in the prestigious international competition, and although the young team has never won a match at this level, Carey believes this year the signs are good.
More Australians are playing in tough overseas competitions, a new High Performance Centre has been established at the AIS in Canberra, and Australia’s greatest ever women’s indoor player, Rachel Rourke, has rejoined the team.
“The program we've had at home is a strong step on the right track for the national team, and it's given us that extra bit of preparation for this big year, as well as having players in college and playing professionally,” Carey said.
“We've always played competitively and shown sparks of great volleyball in the past, I'm hoping the preparation we've had will allow us to go at our top strength for longer.
“All the girls are hungry for the competition and I think, despite coming up against some new teams for us, we'll give a strong showing overseas and come into finals with confidence.”
26-year-old Carey, who spent the European season playing in Germany, was recently announced as the new captain of the Volleyroos. Despite her age, she is one of the team’s most experienced players.
“It's an absolute honour to be named captain, especially after seeing the captains that have come before me and the way they've helped shape each team,”
“I know I've got big shoes to fill and I'm awed and eager to be given the opportunity to lead the national team. And to be able to lead this group, knowing all the hard work that's been put in on the court, in the gym and behind the scenes, I feel very fortunate.
“I doubt there's ever a bad time to be captain, but the team's determination is very exciting.”
Carey is also looking forward to leading the team for the first time at home. The Australians hosted the Group finals in Canberra in 2015, and Carey is hoping an even bigger crowd will turn out on the weekend of July 22/23 to support the team.
“Playing at home is always inspiring,” she said.
“It’s a reminder of who you're representing, especially when you see the crowd - even more so when there are familiar faces in it.
“You often find that extra bit of fight when the crowd has your back and so hosting finals absolutely gives us an advantage.”
Like so many of Carey’s Australian teammates she is keen to go wherever the volleyball world will take her, if it means getting more experience and improving her game.
Many of Australia’s most promising young players have uprooted their lives in the past six months to re-locate to Canberra to be part of the first ever Women’s Volleyball Centre of Excellence.
And Carey herself is keen to head overseas again.
“Playing in Germany was thrilling,” she said.
“I love the game, and of course, I'll always have teammates and coaches who share that passion, but it was something new to see that passion in the crowd and fans. It was rare to be at a quiet game, even rarer to hear a teammate right next to you unless you were shouting.
“It creates an unbelievable atmosphere and the quality of the volleyball added to that. It was a very strong league and I learnt plenty of new skills throughout the season.
“I am currently unsigned but hoping to find a contract with a new club for the next season. I can't wait to experience another new volleyball culture.”
Carey also knows there is no better place to showcase your talents this year than the World Grand Prix, especially with Australia taking on European teams France and Hungary.
Tickets for the World Grand Prix Group 3 finals in Canberra are available at volleyroos.com.au