This is it!
Never before has the world, let alone Australia, seen an international indoor volleyball tournament like this.
Sixteen of the world’s very best volleyball nations going at it over five gruelling weeks across twenty one countries around the world including Australia.
It is the best of the best in fast furious volleyball action like never before, a travelling road show if you like, with all sixteen nations playing each other once.
It’s a major feat in itself for the Helloworld Travel Volleyroos men’s team to be included in the top sixteen volleyball nations, given the huge popularity and level of competition of Volleyball in the Northern hemisphere. This is an opportunity too good to waste.
Australia is not only in the tournament but will also be one of the 21 countries to host volleyball’s world super powers at the Hi-Sense Arena in Melbourne next month (June 22-24). Volleyroos coach Mark Lebedew concedes the challenge is an almighty one but one his Volleyroos men are up for.
“The Competition is going to be the toughest competition there is. Our team motto is “The next Step”. We will be focused on taking a step forward from what we were able to do last season. We are all very excited for this new competition. It is going to be something else and we will be ready.” said Lebedew.
The Australian players and coach are all seasoned professionals mixing it up with the world’s best at club level in Europe. To be fair the idea that Australia will be crowned Volleyball Nations League champions does seem like “mission impossible” but the underdog status sits nicely with the Volleyroos.
“I’m personally competing in the Polish league. I’m working day to day with the best players in the world, coaching against the best players in the world and matching wits with the best coaches. It’s really important to me that the Australian team has a chance to do the same thing.” said Lebedew.
The campaign has begun with the Volleyroos assembling in Poland over the past week. The Aussies will train in Poland for a week before travelling to Berlin next week for two warm up match against Germany and then on to Sicily for two more friendlies against Italy. Then it’s game on with the Volleyroos taking on Japan first up on May 24 in the French city of Rouen.
This new format will be as much of a test to see who can handle the rigorous demands of the toughest international road trip volleyball has ever staged at this level.
“Gruelling is the exact correct way to describe it. It is going to be really tough. We will be playing three games each week and then travelling in between. We start off in France, we go to Bulgaria, Canada, Korea and then Australia.” said Lebedew.
“Each week is a Monday travel day, Tuesday arrival day. One day getting our sea legs so to speak, one day practice and then play. Every week will be a major challenge.”
The Aussies hope to be in good shape by the time they arrive in Australia to put on a show for the home fans in Melbourne as they and their opponents will be battle hardened by then and hopefully the Volleyroos will still be in finals contention.
“Once we get to Melbourne we face world super powers Poland, Brazil and Argentina. It is the highest level of competition you can expect and by then all the teams will be firing really well.” said Lebedew.
“They will have played 10-12 matches so fans will be seeing well oiled machines bringing the maximum level of excitement that is possible.”
It truly is an exciting time for Australian volleyball with our womens Helloworld Travel Volleyroos also joining the men for a training camp in Poland.
“Its really exciting the men and women have never really been together, we compete in different parts of the world so we never even get to watch each other play so its a great time for us.” said Womens Volleyroos coach Shannon Winzer.
“We don’t train together or anything but the boys come in after us to train, the coaches and players are chatting we are crossing paths and while that sounds small its actually a really big deal for us.”
“The guys have always been really supportive of the womens program and we do the same, there’s a real common interest so to be in the same country its really quite unique its the first time its happened in my coaching career and I think even in my playing career.”
The Volleyroos women are preparing to play in the Volleyball Nations Challenge League beginning May 18 in Kazakhstan where they’ll face Kazakhstan, Taipei and the Phillipines with the top team going through to next year’s VNL.
For Australian fans tickets for the VNL in Melbourne are on sale now through Ticketek click here
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