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    Tamika Dockrill at Victorian Volleyball League team Phantoms selection trial.

Excitement surrounding state volleyball showdown

It has been more than 600 days since the black and purple uniform of Phantoms Volleyball Club has been seen in Victorian Volleyball League, so the excitement is understandable for all members as they prepare for round one on Saturday.

The club has undergone a huge revamp, with only six teams competing in 2021, down from nine in 2019, which has made it easier for club volunteers to administer.

“With nine teams it was a massive undertaking by the club to ensure as many players got the opportunity to play. But now with just the six teams, everyone who wants to play will get the opportunity, and we won’t have those lower level teams with players who probably weren’t quite up to the standard,” club secretary Damon Minotti said.

Participation from Volleyball Horsham members has also dropped off, resulting in only nine members pulling on the black and purple uniform.

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Volleyball Horsham’s Tim Popple said it was a reflection of where the club was at with junior development, with a gap between 14 and 15-year-olds and older teenagers, and older players who had moved on.

“In saying that though of our nine, eight of them will be playing in the new look Premier competition, which is full credit to the hard work and passion those players have for the game,” he said.

The Premier competition consists exclusively of the top eight clubs in Victoria, of which Phantoms is one, with each club fielding men’s and women’s teams in Premier One and Two divisions.

This change has come after a thorough review of the league over the past three years.

Jack Hannan, Cam Robinson and Matthew and Nathan Berry will all line up in the Premier One men’s team on Saturday when the club welcomes Melbourne Uni Renegades to Ballarat Minerdome.

Kara Johnson and Tamikah Dockrill will line up for the Premier One women’s team, while Emily Hannan will play in the Premier Two women’s team.

Tyler Puls will make his debut on the Premier Two men’s team, with Rebecca Allan named in the Reserves One women’s team.

In the Premier One men’s game Phantoms will go in as underdogs against a Renegades team that defeated them in straight sets at last month’s Warrnambool tournament. Captain Matthew Berry said the team had studied vision of that game and learnt enough to be able to turn the tables on Renegades come Saturday.

“Our serve-receive was our strong point from that game, and it will be up to Nathan and I to ensure we turn that aspect of our game into smart choices on where we distribute the ball for our hitters,” he said.

Now the most senior member of her team, key setter Kara Johnson is under no illusions as to the challenge ahead of her young side in the Premier One women’s match.

“Renegades got us at Warrnambool as well, but we weren’t disgraced against an opposition that will figure deep into the business end of the season,” Johnson said.

“We’ll go into the game wanting to give it our best shot, and that is all you can ask of a young team.”

Games start at 10am with Reserves One men and Reserves Two women, followed at noon by the Premier Two men and women.

Premier One women play on centre court at 2pm, with Premier One men to follow at 4pm.

Admission is free.

Volleyball Horsham Hall of Fame Legend David Abud will be riding to the Minerdome on Saturday, arriving about 1.30pm on his fundraising ride for Alzheimer’s research.

A scorers clinic involving representatives from all teams will be in Horsham Cycling Club rooms from 7pm to 8.30pm on Wednesday next week.

– David Berry


The entire April 7, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!