A back to back victory for Volleyball Horsham’s division one men’s team will be the incentive to finish the year on a high, when teams line up for the 25th annual Volleyball Horsham Open tournament.

Three new teams will challenge for the elite division title, with Hickman’s Warriors from Bendigo, Sunraysia and a metro Kew club Brawndo, all out to dethrone Horsham’s top men’s team.

Captain Matthew Berry is cautious about his team’s chances to defend their title after finishing third in Bendigo recently.

“We’ve added a bit more experience to our team for this tournament with the inclusion of Mazenod middle blocker Aaron Magnusson, Melbourne Vipers head coach Josh Cowan and Nick Adamson returns.”

“But we know Hickman’s Warriors are going to be hard to beat as they have a big strong team and Brawndo also will be tough, as they play in the Kew elite competition which is a strong competition.”

Red Renegades are also looking to go back to back in women’s division one, but like the men will also face some strong competition including the Victorian White under 19 team featuring Volleyball Horsham members Laelah Robertson and Tamikah Dockrill.

Volleyball Horsham’s women’s division one team will be strengthened by the inclusion of Victorian Blue under 19 libero Holly Eason and have Cleo Baker playing division one at this event for the first time.

Team captain Kara Johnson is hoping to improve on last year’s third placed finish.

“Holly is a tremendous defensive player and consistent on pass, while Cleo is on fire at present and will create major headaches for all opponents.”

Team United from South Australia are also looking to defend their men’s division two title but with a vastly different team to last year.

Volleyball Horsham’s team has been strengthened with the inclusion of Jordy Weidemann, Jayden McQueen and Brady King, all three more than capable division one players.

Team captain Shaun Bray is keen for his team to reverse last year’s runners up effort.

“With Tim Popple, Nathan Berry and King in the team, we feel confident of making it tough for Team United to defend their title.”

“But we know Mt Gambier, Warrnambool and Latrobe Uni will all be worthy opponents so we’re going to have to play at our best to make the final.”

Three new divisions will be included at this tournament with a men’s division three, women’s division two and an under 15 mixed division all be offered.

Volleyball Horsham will be well represented in all three divisions with the St Brigid’s Raptors stepping into open competition for the first time after winning the junior division three years in a row.

They will be hard to beat in men’s division three especially with the inclusions in Lloyd Baker, Tyler Puls and Scott Davidson.

Top junior team Raiders Black will be fancied to make the final in the under 15 mixed division, but will face strong opposition from Warrnambool’s two teams and Sunraysia.

The weekend will kick off on Friday night when “Harry’s Match 2” will be played at the basketball stadium from 8pm. This match commemorates Harry Denson who passed away last year, while this year the night will also honor Ben Jolley, son of Steve and Katrina Jolley who passed away in 2017 and also Abe Kingston, son of George and Jo Kingston who passed away this year.

“We are shining a light on mental health and youth suicide, so the community can be better educated on how to help families affected by such tragedies, at the same time help those who are suffering with their mental health,” said association vice president Tim Popple.

This year a girl’s match will be played featuring Kara Johnson’s Gold Stars, a team that won three silver medals and a gold medal in four years at State Schools Cup as well as a division two country championship gold and bronze medal. This team has not played together for ten years.

They will be pitted against Murtoa College’s foundation players that helped put Murtoa volleyball on the map including Caitlin and Maddie McQueen, Sheridan Baker, Gemma Morgan, Lauren Drum and Makaelah Robertson.

“It’s great to see Makaelah back on the court, as she has been training with the Australian Para Beach Volley team and will gain valuable match play over the weekend,” said team coach Shaun Bray.

“Makaelah is a great example of how inclusive volleyball can be, and while she is a bit nervous getting back on the court again, we know she is as keen as,” Bray said.

“Following the girl’s match will be the men’s match featuring many players who were friends of Harry. Last year we had 23 players participate and we’re looking forward to honoring all three boys the best way we know how – and that is through volleyball,” said Bray.

We will be raising funds for BeyondBlue and Healthy Minds-Horsham, so we encourage as many people as possible to get down to the stadium on Friday night and support the players.

It will be a great weekend for volleyball in Horsham.