A four set loss in the gold medal match has fueled the desire to continue improving for Volleyball Horsham member Cleo Baker.
Baker won a silver medal at the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships in Canberra last week with her Victorian White team losing to New South Wales in the final.
Baker was pleased with her contribution to the team, even though there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“I was happy with how I played, but in the final nerves played a big part in our team, as we were inconsistent on serve and our attack wasn’t up to scratch,” the Murtoa College student said.
“We dished up between nine and eleven service errors a set, and when you lose by a few points each time those errors add up.”
Coach Latrobe Valley’s Glenn Trembath while disappointed with the loss was happy with the week.
“If the team had have played like they did in the gold medal qualifier on Friday, the gold medal match result would have been quite different,” Trembath lamented.
“But that is volleyball – you have to bring your best each and every game you play.”
Baker had the privilege of being coached by Australian Volleyroos captain Kelly Lean throughout the campaign who acted as assistant coach.
“Kelly was a really great coach. She kept all us girls in line and made our attitude on the court much better, as well as giving really good feedback.”
Baker said the experience was again beneficial and she learnt plenty from her coaches and teammates.
“Being the ultimate team game it only takes one player to be slightly off or not switched on, and it can really make it tough,” Baker said.
“Apart from that I’m looking forward to improving my defense in all positions and keeping in touch with the new friends I’ve made.”
Murtoa College volleyball coach Shaun Bray also experienced the highs and lows of a National Juniors in his first time as coach at the championships.
After finishing second on the table they had two chances for a medal. A loss in the gold medal qualifier consigned the team to the bronze medal match which they were unable to win against an improving Queensland team.
“Beating eventual gold medalists New South Wales in our first game was a massive high for me as well as a great relief,” said Bray.
“The mental preparation and psychology behind playing at this level is more important than the skills and game play. One minute you have a team that is full of confidence after a big win, but that can quickly disappear following a loss.”
Other Volleyball Horsham members that attended were Tamikah Dockrill and Laelah Robertson who played with Victoria White Under 19 team that finished eighth and John Kearns’ Vic Gold Under 17 team finished seventh.
In a major announcement which was made at the end of the tournament, these championships will be played in Bendigo for the next three years.