The Championship title was dealt with in a best of 5 match series, the first one at home on the 5th of April. We came out a bit off key, we were nervous and it was showing as we lost the first set thanks to hitting errors and poor serving where as Dynamo were playing freely with a ‘nothing to loose’ attitude. After a stern talking to by our coach at the change of ends we managed to focus and power through to a 4 set win. Everyone was pumped bit still very focused, as we knew we had two more matches to win and next one being a big one.
Dynamo is home to the largest stadium in the Dutch League with a large and loud fan base to fill it. We had 2 days of training before the second match. The 2 days were spent watching video of Dynamo and mimicking their style of play, to plan how best to beat it. We came into the second match focused with 2 solid days of training and confidence in our game plan to go 2-0. We stormed through the first set managing to block out the crowd feeling completely in control and continued with the momentum snowballing, finishing in a straight sets win with our best game statistically for the whole season - only one hitting error and no passing errors for the whole team in 3 sets was way above our average. Suddenly the championship felt within reach but knew we couldn’t get too excited just yet, funny things can happen in big matches.
Training was again very solid and we all felt ready as we walked out on the court and into an amazing atmosphere surrounded by a packed stadium filled with fans from both sides, blue and white Landstede flags and the brass band or two making a racket. Never have I played in front of such an electric crowd. As the first whistle blew, the adrenaline kicked in and it was time to focus. Our game plan hadn’t changed much at all from the second match and just as long as we remained aggressive we were confident it would work again. Throughout the match Dynamo were making us work but we still managed to take the first two sets. The third set came and we again powered through it winning the final match in straight sets fueled by pure excitement and energy from seeing the finish line.
It was an incredible feeling. We managed to pull off one of the more dominant seasons in Dutch League history, only dropping 1 set out of 10 in the championship.
We had the medal ceremony, got awarded with flowers and soaked in French Champagne, then set off on a well-deserved night out with the team. It was a great ending to an amazing life experience and learning curve that was my first year playing professionally. It was for sure tough at times with the hard training, being away from home and injuries but the rewards in the end made it all worthwhile with the biggest reward yet to come, going home!
On the 15th of April I flew out from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur where I waited for about 10 hours before the last and final flight to Melbourne where I was greeted by a very excited Mum, Dad and brother Sam. Although I couldn’t get too settled in at home as on the 21st I would be off to Canberra to trial for the Australian Senior Team leading up to this years World League.
My week at home was fantastic spending my time being with my family and girlfriend, Georgie and just doing normal stuff again.
I’ve been at the AIS now for two weeks and have been selected in the Senior Team Squad for World League. It’s been a goal of mine to make the Senior Team for a long time now and it feels great to be able to earn my spot on it and tick it off the list.
World league is spread over 3 months with away rounds in Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland and Canada as well as home rounds in Canberra, Sydney and Adelaide. This will be the first time ever the World League has come to Australia which is very exciting not only for us, as we get the rare opportunity to play in front of a home crowd, but also for the Australian public as they will get to see the world’s best volleyball.
Some very exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to get started with it all!
I hope you guys enjoyed reading my blog; I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on the progress of the Volleyroos throughout our World League campaign.