IT will be fresh-faced South West Pirates volleyball sides on court at the Victorian country championships this weekend.
The Pirates have opted for youthful men’s and women’s teams, with the aim of developing younger players for the championships in Leongatha on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
The Warrnambool association is taking a men’s division two side and a women’s division two side.
Head coach Craig Gibbs said the aim was to bring youth up through the ranks and give them the experience of playing against top ranked teams. “We are taking two or three more experienced players in each side, but I’d say seven out of the 10 would be aged between 15 and 20,” he said.
“They’ve been training twice a week for the past six weeks and they are looking really good.”
Among the players making the trip will be Morgan Edge, who is taking to the court in her first country championships at senior level.
She said she was looking forward to testing herself against some of the state’s top teams.
“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s going to be a great experience,” she said.
“It’s so exciting to be on the team, it’s a fantastic chance for me to test myself and to play with some of the more experienced players we have here in Warrnambool.”
The 14-year-old is also taking part in the South West Academy of Sport’s volleyball program and is hoping to put some of the tips she’s picked up from that program into practice.
“Hopefully we can pick up a few sets and be competitive,” she said.
Pirates women’s coach Steve Young said Morgan had proved herself at training and was “a good little player”.
“She trains hard and she listens,” he said.
Young said he was hopeful the side could make top three.
“The team has some juniors who were part of the Geelong winning under 15/16 side a couple of weeks ago,” he said.
“Last year we played off for third and fourth, I think the team we have this year is just as strong, so we are a good chance.”
He said seasoned representatives Cheryl Hilliam, Glenda Hussey and Eleanor Collins would also take to the court this weekend.
Men’s coach David McConnell said the men’s side would be led by premier league player James Ross and would include Daniel Hand along with younger players Ryan Bunney, Cameron Pike and James Holland.