Lausanne, Switzerland, January 19, 2018 – With the Volleyroos lining up among the 24 national teams set to participate in the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship in Italy and Bulgaria, as well as among the 16 squads set to play in the inaugural Volleyball Nations League, as one of four challenger teams, Volleyball Australia are betting on a strong season in 2018.
Volleyball Australia High Performance Director John Boultbee sees an opportunity for the Volleyroos to travel to Italy for the World Championship with a strong squad and better prepared than ever before.
Australia will compete against USA, Russia, Serbia, Tunisia and Cameroon in World Championship Pool C in the Italian city of Bari.
“USA and Russia are amongst the perennial best teams in the world and we also have Serbia who are very good, although we have beaten them in the past. The others in our pool, Tunisia and Cameroon, are both ranked lower than Australia. We need to be in the top four of our pool to progress to the next round, so it will be interesting,” Boultbee commented.
John Boultbee and the team mascot during the national anthem played before a 2017 World League match in Gold Coast
The Volleyroos will start their campaign on September 12 against Russia, followed by a match against USA on the next day. Then they will meet Cameroon on the 14th, Serbia on the 16th, and Tunisia on the 17th of September before knowing their place in the Pool C standings and what happens next. This may sound like a tough week for the team, but they will be ready for it after going through many challenging battles in the Volleyball Nations League from May to July.
“What better warm-up could there be for the World Championship than playing fifteen games against fifteen of the best nations in the world over five gruelling weeks?” Boultbee contemplated. “In terms of games under the belt as individuals and as a team we will be in good stead by the time September comes around for the World Championship.”
The Australians will rely on the experience they acquire together, but also on the individual experience their players will bring with them as they return from club competitions around the world. Australian volleyball's steady international rise has come hand in hand with Australian players and coaches competing in top leagues around the world.
“We have about 25 men playing in Europe (as well as five coaches) and a few in Asia and Africa. It is the week in, week out volleyball that makes you an international volleyballer and, of course, that all adds to our depth,” said Boultbee.
In addition, Boultbee hopes that some of the country's best players will re-join the Volleyroos after periods of absence. 2.12m-tall opposite Tom Edgar, who starred on Australia’s national squad at the 2014 Men's World Championship as well as at the 2012 Olympic Games, and holds the FIVB scoring record of 50 points in a single match, skipped the 2017 season, and could be back. One of the country’s other best talents, 2.04m-tall middle blocker Nehemiah Mote (Nemo), who is recovering from injury, seems to be on his way back to the Volleyroos just in time to make Boultbee even more optimistic.
“Tom is a great player,” said Boultbee. “We would like him to play, but effectively it is his choice at the moment. Nemo is a really talented middle blocker, a great asset when he is fit. He had a bad knee injury in 2016 and other issues, but he is back now and this is great for us. Nemo has picked up a mid-season contract in Switzerland so we are looking forward to seeing him progress in his club and be ready for the Volleyroos’ training camp in Poland in May.”