Volleyball at Barnett Cup in Ballarat

Australian Masters Volleyball 2013 had no women’s teams in our age group and in 2014 there was no competition. Or so my friends who usually play told me. So let’s play the Barnett Cup tournament in Ballarat over the ANZAC long weekend instead. Ask another couple of girls interstate to get the numbers for a team, check accommodation is possible at this late stage and in no time we were organised with just the car pooling to sort out.

We arrived at different times, from early afternoon on the Thursday to just before our first game on Friday afternoon. One girl flew in from Canberra, hired a car and visited her baby nephew before driving to Ballarat. Another couple of girls coaching their U17 Victorian Women’s teams stayed with them and played with us when they were not coaching. Their accomodation at Ballarat College on blow up beds no where near as nice as our house with heating, wide screen television and Foxtel. The other member of our group was Nigel, riding his bicycle up from Melbourne in a time of three half hours with an average speed of 31kmh. It was a chilly ride, but with a warm house, hot cup of tea, vanilla slice from Beechworth bakery and shower he was ready to watch our first game.

Most of the team play together on a Thursday night but with school holidays it had been a few weeks. It didn’t take long for us to get in the groove and win the first set.  This was a surprise as we usually take the first set to warm up and it is a good thing as there is a time limit of 1 hour at this tournament.  We played an open women’s team so were delighted when we won the game with a few points lead. There is time for lunch at a restaurant by the lake, we enjoyed a light snack before our next game.

This one was tougher, with tall girls who hit harder and served more aggressively. Once again we won the first set but really struggled in the second, losing too many points in a row to one of their  jump servers. In the third we did not get enough points to take the set and neither do they so it was a draw. We happily head home to indulge in one of our favourite pastimes, nibbles and wine before dinner. We take turns to shower putting our gear in piles of darks and whites to be washed for Sunday’s game. Home delivered pizza for dinner, conversation and watching sport on the big screen.

Our first game on Saturday is another late one and so we sleep in and enjoy a lazy breakfast with papers or the internet. Wifi comes with the house. At different times we head out to stretch the legs and visit the Beechworth Bakery again. A late morning tea gives as the sustanance for the game against one of the Under 17 teams.  Their coah plays with us leaving the the assistant coach to do the subs and time outs.  However that does not stop our player coaching through the net which we are happy for her to do. I think the U17 girls enjoyed the opportunity to play against her. It is the same pattern with a win in the first set, a loss in the second, however we win the third in the last few minutes before the horn.

We find out that if we had lost the last set our next game which is a cross over with the other pool would be at 3pm, instead it is at 5pm and our last game will be at 8am on Sunday. Where as another team wanted the games we were allocated. Ah well, it is impossible to know these things before all the games finish.We head back to the house for a relaxing afternoon and book dinner at a local that is a short walk away.The game is against a team with premier division players, the highest competition in Victoria. Their play is fast and they hit the cover off the ball. The first set is frustrating as we are outclassed and cannot get our rythm. Second set we do much better getting 18 points. They win the third before the hour is up.

One of our girls has injured herself, we are all tired and sore. Three days of competition is one day too much, but we get up at 6:30 am and head off to play the last game. It is cold in the gym. Starting later it has usually warmed up a little, so it took us a little bit of time to get going and by then we had lost the first set. Second set we came back. Third set, well it could have been better. It was great news that the Under 17 girls had improved all weekend and defeated the team that we drew against, playing themsleves into the final. As their coach said, they had the 8am and the 5pm games on the Saturday so had all day to bond. Their final score was 3-0 loss but 26-24 in the last set. I heard later that the two teams will organise a scrimmage game at a later date, just for some good practise.

We have a late check out at the house so shower and tidy up before having brunch at another restaurant with a lake view. Soon it is see you at Thursday’s game or see you next time to our Canberra mate. An easy drive home in the sunshine and then the reckoning of being tired, stiff and sore. It was worth it.

Author: schapman
Posted on:14/05/2014

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