The Australian women’s volleyball team has broken through for its first ever win in the FIVB World Grand Prix, beating Trinidad and Tobago in Mexico on Monday morning.
Tears were shed by players and coaching staff after the Volleyroos posted their first Grand Prix win since joining the competition in 2014, and the first win in an international FIVB competition, outside of the 2000 Olympics, since 1982.
Led by an incredible 11 service aces from star Opposite, Rachel Rourke, the Volleyroos posted a 3-0 win, 25-20, 25-12, 25-23.
Coach Shannon Winzer said she could understand why the team felt emotional.
“Today is a great day,” she said.
“I am very emotional because it has been four years of hard work, my tears are of joy…it means a lot to our program.
“I'm very proud of this team and the program. We believe in what we are doing and it's nice to have the win to reaffirm we're on the right track.
“We will enjoy tonight's win, but tomorrow we will begin our preparation for our rematch against Trinidad on Friday where we will look for our second win.”
The Australians based their win around 15 service aces, with Rourke finishing with a game-high 25 points.
“Everyone did their jobs today,” coach Shannon Winzer said.
“To name a few, Jenny Tait started her first game for the senior national team and was a force at the net. Rachel Rourke came up with big attacks at key moments and the team service pressure (including Rachel's 11 aces) made it very difficult for Trinidad to find rhythm.
“Karley Hynes continues to post good numbers and Alice De Innocentiis has been consistent throughout the games so far which has increased our scoring opportunities.
“Trinidad came back hard in the third set, but we had a lot of patience and showed resilience, it was good to hold on and clinch the third. Serving is underrated at this level and it is one of the most important aspects of the game, we showed what aggressive serves can do to a result."
Rourke said the win confirms Australia belongs at this level.
“It feels great to win our first match in the World Grand Prix, it has been a lot of years and we have been working hard together,” she said.
“I have been working a long time in serves, I am old. In this weekend we learned that we are good enough to win, we can come out and fight against all these teams as equals."
The Australians finished the opening weekend of the Grand Prix with one win and two losses, and now heads to Trinidad and Tobago for three more matches next weekend.
The Volleyroos then head home to Canberra the following weekend to host the Group Three World Grand Prix finals.