Queensland’s Lincoln Williams is the perfect embodiment of the growing success of the Australian men’s volleyball team in 2017.
The helloworld Volleyroos went into this year’s FIVB World League campaign with a team stricken by injury and player unavailability, forcing new coach Mark Lebedew to throw players into positions they weren’t used to, and giving bench players much more prominent roles.
Williams was one of the players tapped on the shoulder by Lebedew, and the 23-year-old has repaid his coach’s faith in spades.
In the absence of regular opposite Tom Edgar, Williams was promoted to second opposite behind captain Paul Carroll, and has made the most of every opportunity he’s been given.
“At the moment I'm in pretty good physical condition and really ready to do whatever it is the team needs me to do to help secure wins,” Williams said from the Gold Coast this week.
“Mark has done a really good job in terms of playing and resting people in multiple different starting rotations, so that no matter which rotation and lineup hits the court, we will all be comfortable playing and confident in each other's abilities to perform at the top level.
“It's been great, the guys and staff really make being part of the national team enjoyable on and off the court.”
Even before a ball was hit in anger in this year’s FIVB World League competition, Lebedew had identified Williams as a player ready to take his game to the next level.
He wasn’t the only one, with German club United Volleys in Frankfurt signing the Opposite up for the Bundesliga next season.
After five years playing in the more minor leagues like Estonia, it’s a big step up for a player who began his European career barely out of high school.
This weekend he’ll get to show his family and friends just how far he’s come when he joins the Volleyroos in their quest for a World League Group Two title at the Gold Coast Sports and Leisure Centre at Carrara.
The Australians will be in for a tough challenge, with current European silver medallists Slovenia, Asian Champions Japan, and former Olympic gold medallists, The Netherlands, making up an exciting quartet.
“I think it's incredible we get to play the finals here,” Williams said.
“It's always great playing in front of an Aussie crowd but to have it in Queensland is just that bit extra special to me.
“My family and friends will be coming down for the weekend. My wife, unfortunately couldn't get this time off work and will be watching from home in Estonia.”
The FIVB World League semi-finals begin on Saturday with Slovenia playing The Netherlands at 5:10pm, followed by Australia against Japan at 7:40pm.
On Sunday he bronze medal match begins at 1:40pm, followed by the gold medal match at 4:10pm.
Tickets for all matches are available at www.volleyroos.com.au