Aussies warm to home-court advantage
10 Jul 2015
They haven’t played an international match on home soil since the Sydney 2000 Olympics, but the Australian women’s volleyball team is warming to the opportunity of a home-court advantage in this weekend’s World Grand Prix at the AIS Arena.
Ranked 46 in the world, the Volleyroos will begin the Grand Prix Group 3 Finals against the world No.19 country, Kenya, on Saturday, July 11.
But it’s the Africans shaking in their boots.
“I saw them in the breakfast room this morning and they think it’s frozen over here,” said Australian coach Mark Barnard. “They’re really struggling, so that’s great, I hope it drops another four or five degrees.”
“They’re the top team in Africa, so they play the Olympics, world championships, Grand Prix, World Cup - they get exposure at all of the top tournaments, so they just have an experience level that we don’t.
“We have to present in a good light that we can compete on the world stage … we have to put in a good show in that regard, and Canberra’s the right place to do that.
Colombia and Peru will also contest the FIVB Women’s Grand Prix Group 3 Finals, held at the AIS Arena from July 11-12.
Having first represented the Volleyroos in 2005, retiring player Lauren Bertolacci will incredibly play her first major international match in Australia. Bertolacci will then take up a coaching role in Switzerland.
“We’ve come a long way and certainly in the last two years we’ve put together a new team and it’s growing and we’re getting some good results, but it obviously takes time,” Bertolacci said.
“It’s an absolutely dream retirement, there’s no doubt about that. When I heard it was in Canberra and it coincided with the new job opportunity for me, I thought it was an unbelievable chance and I hope I can see the program through to the next 10 years.
“It’s going to be a great chance to show that we can compete on the world stage.”
Grand Prix schedule:
Saturday: 4.10pm: Colombia v Peru; 7.10pm: Australia v Kenya
Sunday: 1.10pm-3.40pm- Teams TBC; 4.10pm- Teams TBC