A LIMESTONE Coast representative side narrowly missed out on the silverware in the Warrnambool Seaside Volleyball Tournament on the weekend.
The South East Volleyball Association entered a team in the event in the hope to improve on its disappointing results from 2019 and made it all the way into the grand final.
Despite falling at the final hurdle to a side with decades of experience, the South East made it through the pool rounds undefeated.
South East Volleyball president Cambell Baker was part of the team and said he was impressed by the improvement from last year’s competition.
“Last year we went away and we only won one game, so to win all of our games bar the last one was a huge improvement,” he said.
“A lot of hard work has gone into it.
“The first time we went away we had probably only half the team who had played some higher level volleyball before.
“The other half, who were quite good volleyballers, just did not have the experience in playing at that next level.
“With a year under their belt we could really see a difference in the team, which was excellent.”
The team competed in Division 3 of the tournament, which consisted of eight teams split into two pools.
To add the cherry to the cake South East’s Steven Speck was named most valuable player for the Division 3 competition.
“He had a really good tournament and was really consistent,” Baker said.
“For him to get some personal achievement like that is awesome.”
Progressing through the minor rounds undefeated, the South East matched up against the Melbourne-based Wallabies in the decider.
After a hard-fought match the more experienced Wallabies emerged victorious, winning all three sets.
“They were a bunch of fellas who have played together for 20 or 30 years,” Baker said.
“They are older now, which was quite frustrating.
“They are not super athletes, but they are super smart.”
Baker said it was a good learning experience for the team to go up against a side which was a polished unit, with no weak links.
“A lot of the time experience beats talent,” he said.
“For us it was awesome to see a whole unit working together, rather than some teams who rely on two or three players to get them through.
“That is something we are definitely wanting to emulate in our own team – to have everyone on the same page and as close to the same ability as possible.”
Despite missing out on the silverware, Baker was proud of his team’s performance throughout the tournament.
“We had a couple of really close matches against a couple of teams and in the past we would have lost those matches,” he said.
“The fact we are able to stick with it and see those tough sets out is a huge improvement from last year.”
Looking ahead the South East Volleyball Association will now focus on its local competition, while preparing for another tournament later in the year.
“We will definitely head back to Horsham in mid-November this year for a similar tournament which we went to last year,” Baker said.
“The next six months will be us preparing for that.
“Also everyone who was involved (in Warrnambool) can take what they learned back to their own teams in the local comp on Monday night.
“Hopefully that lifts the standard of our local comp too.”