Australian women’s volleyball captain Beth Carey has only been in the job for less than one month, but already she can lay claim to being the most successful skipper in the history of the fledgling national team.
Since taking charge, the Helloworld Travel Volleyroos have won their first ever World Grand Prix match, plus taken sets off every other opponent they’ve taken on.
With a little bit of luck, they could have beaten France, one of their opponents in Canberra this weekend for the Group Three World Grand Prix finals at the AIS Arena.
“Captaining so far has been smooth sailing,” Carey said in Canberra this week.
“There were some very exciting moments in the pool rounds, especially the win over Trinidad. But we've taken a set off each team we've played, and have shown that with energy and consistency, we can compete and succeed against strong teams.”
But Carey is quick to recognizes volleyball is very much a team sport, and she has been fortunate to have been surrounded by a very united group of players.
“We have a level headed and eager-to-do-well team,” she said.
“There are various experience levels within the group and from that we can take knowledge from years of playing at a high level, and also a fresh outlook and new ideas when we come across challenges on and off the court.”
Australia will take on Venezuela tonight at 7pm, with France and Hungary doing battle in the early game at 4pm. Hungary and France were both unbeaten in the preliminary rounds of the World Grand Prix, while Venezuela’s only losses were to the two European teams.
But Carey believes the home crowd will play a crucial role this weekend.
“I am absolutely keen for the finals here this weekend,” she said.
“Of course, there are nerves. We have a huge opportunity to win in front of family and friends - a home crowd - and we don't want to let this chance go by.
“But eagerness to play is by far the most dominant emotion. We've seen home teams respond to the energy of the crowd while we've been in Mexico and Trinidad and now it's our turn.
“And I have a strong feeling that we will play our best games by far here at home.”
The results this weekend may well come down to who responds best to the demanding travel itinerary all teams have had to undertake this week.
All four teams have had to travel from either Trinidad and Tobago or Venezuela, a journey which took the Australians almost 46 hours, arriving in Canberra on Wednesday.
It will provide Carey and coach Shannon Winzer with another challenge this weekend. For Carey, it’s the latest chapter in what has been a steep learning curve as captain.
“A challenge for myself as captain has been determining whether I'm doing enough for the team,” she said.
“There is always the thought that I could be doing more, pushing intensity on the court, ensuring everyone is recovering and getting what they need off the court.”
This weekend Carey will have several hundred supporters to help her keep the Volleyroos on their toes, and add another chapter in her captaincy career.
Tickets for this weekend’s matches are available at volleyballaustralia.org