SOUTH West Pirates defied near-freezing temperatures and fatigue to claim bronze in division two men’s competition at the Victorian Country Volleyball Championships in Leongatha yesterday.
The Warrnambool Volley-ball Association representative side claimed a five-set victory against West Gippsland in the playoff for third.
Captain James Ross was delighted his young and inexperienced side emerged from the gruelling three-day championships with a medal after its 23-25, 25-20, 24-26, 25-17, 15-7 victory.
“We really picked up our momentum in the fourth and fifth sets,” Ross said.
He said yesterday’s one-degree temperature when the match began at 8.30am had affected his side.
“It was so cold, it took us the entire first set to warm up,” Ross said.
“We dropped the first five points because the people who were passing, their fingers were so stiff they couldn’t receive the ball properly.
“Once we got warmed up we were ok.”
Ross said the medal was a big reward for his young side.
“Considering it was our first major tournament where we have played this new system, everyone picked it up pretty well. It was only tiredness yesterday (Sunday) that let us down and kept us out of a grand final.” He said Pirates used three designated passers — Daniel Hand, Jimmy Holland and Mick Philip — in a bid to improve service reception.
Ross said passer/hitter Holland and Philip capped their outstanding weekends with inclusion in the all-star seven with Philip named the libero, or specialist passer.
Young setter Ryan Bunney was the most influential player in the medal match.
“He had two service streaks of eight points and his setting was on point. He really stood out and everyone had a really good game,” Ross said.
Pirates’ division two women’s team missed out on a medal, going down to Latrobe Valley in straight sets in its bronze play-off.