Home crowd lift Australia to well-earned World League bronze


 

A big home crowd has helped lift Australia to the bronze medal at the FIVB World League Group Two finals on the Gold Coast, beating Netherlands 3-0 on Sunday.

The Volleyroos bounced back after a tough five set loss to Japan the previous evening to beat the Dutch 29-27, 25-19, 28-26.

Captain Paul Carroll said it was a credit to his team to overcome fatigue to take the medal.

"For us to come out today and beat a pretty good Dutch team was testament to our mental capabilities," he said.

"We were all pretty physically wrecked, so the team that was mentally strong would win that game. It wasn't the best volleyball, but we used the crowd and the home support to will us home."

“It’s been a pretty long World League campaign. We were certainly starting to feel fatigued, especially in that third set, but I think the crowd got us home."

It was a big effort for coach Mark Lebedew and Carroll to lift the team up after an energy-sapping night against Japan.

“Our goal was to win the gold, but I’m pretty proud of our guys that we came out to show the fight that we did and won those close sets, the first and third sets," Carroll said.

Carroll finished as the game high scorer with 18 points, while Luke Smith had 12. Three services aces apiece to the experienced Nathan Roberts and Travis Passier at crucial stages of the match helped the Volleyroos take control.

“They could have gone either way, but it’s about the heart and the work ethic and the courage we have together, that’s why we win those close ones,” Carroll said.

“Good Aussie spirit, I reckon.”

After taking the first two sets, Australia found itself behind in the third set as the long five-set match on Saturday night began to take effect.

Coach Mark Lebedew made several team changes, bringing on Paul Sanderson, Trent O’Dea and Sam Walker, and the fresh legs made the difference.

The Volleyroos had match point on three occasions, before an error at the net from the Dutch gave Australia the bronze.

“We play against a lot of these guys,” Carroll said.

“We had a couple of words through the net, that fired us up. The legs may be sore, but the adrenalin gets us going.”

Slovenia once again showed its class with a 3-0 win over Japan to take the gold.

The Volleyroos will now turn their attention to next month’s Asian zone World Championship qualifiers in Canberra.

"It's awesome that we get to play again in front of a home crowd," Carroll said.

"Hopefully we'll have a big home support in Canberra, we need to finish top two to get to the World Championships next year.

"I play in Germany, where we have good support, but it's great to come home, talk to our fans in English instead of German. The fans here are always respectful and cool.

"In Germany they kind of demand a photo of you, here they always ask you. It's so nice to be home, I wish we got to play more games at home like this."