Generally, if a team drops into a competition at late notice, they don’t expect to do well, let alone take away the gold and silver medals, but Defence teams did exactly that at the Queensland Volleyball State Championships.
The Australian Defence Force men’s and women’s volleyball teams were last minute additions to the titles held in late July.
The men’s team remained undefeated throughout the competition and won gold against the previous year’s champions, Redlands, winning two sets to one and scoring 17-25, 25-21 and 15-7.
The women, although undefeated up until the grand final, came home with silver after a narrow loss against Sandpit, one set to two and scoring 25-21, 23-25 and 11-15.
Australian Defence Force Volleyball Association treasurer and women’s team captain, Army's Captain Jen O’Brien said the late entry to the competition proved to be in the team’s favour.
“It’s a strong tournament with the top teams from across Queensland participating, and we were largely unknown to the competition,” Captain O’Brien said.
“We definitely weren’t expecting to perform as well as we did. Both of the teams were challenged throughout the tournament so it was a great experience for all those involved.
“We had a number of rookies on both teams who performed really well throughout the competition.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams spent the week before the tournament training at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane.
“The men’s and women’s team coaches developed an intense training program with the aim of bringing the teams together in a short amount of time,” Captain O’Brien said.
“You cannot rely on one person in volleyball – it really is a team effort, so team integration is vital."
“We focused on game play and drills throughout the week, including a few practice games against a local club. There were also some team-building activities, including a volleyball-specific strength, conditioning and mobility development session with the Physical Training Instructors.”
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Leah Winder, of HMAS Cerberus, said the training, while exhausting, improved the team’s skills.
“We trained so much in the lead-up to the competition that we all got used to each other and the positions everyone plays,” Able Seaman Winder said.
“I wasn’t sure how we would go, because I had no idea what the competition was like. We ended up doing really well."
“The highlights for me were learning from the other players, as well as all of the support the teams gave each other."
“The competition was a great experience, and anyone who can, should get involved.”
The Australian Defence Force Volleyball Association national combined services tournament will be at Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, from 25 November to 4 December, where the state combined services teams will compete. There will also be a beach competition and an adaptive, seated volleyball competition during the week.
The 2017 Australian Defence Force national teams will be selected from the combined services tournament, with the aim to enter both teams in the 2017 New Zealand Club Championships.