The University’s volleyballers finished 2017 in style by winning the women’s Australian Volleyball League (AVL) title with a dominant display over the WA Pearls.
The win was the Melbourne University Blues fifth consecutive AVL national title, defeating their WA opponents in straights sets, 3 – 0 (25:19, 25:16, 25:15) at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on Sunday 3 December. The Blues won through to the gold medal match after defeating the Sydney Amazons in the semi-final, also in three straight sets (25:22, 25:21, 25:15) on Saturday 2 December.
After losing their four-time Championship-winning coach Shannon Winzer to the newly created AIS Centre of Excellence in the off-season, and with a number of 2016 team members taking a break, not many outside of the Blues inner sanctum would’ve predicated another finals’ campaign. But the team just kept on wining and they extended their national winning streak to an amazing 38 games during the season (eventually losing in the west to the WA Pearls in the second-last round of the home and away season).
New coach Steve Holder paid tribute to the team and their never-say-die attitude during the finals series.
“When we were 19-12 down in the first set (in the semi-final against the Sydney Amazons) I thought it could have been interesting. But they fought back to win in straight sets and I thought if they’ve got the strength to do that they’ve got the strength to do anything”, said Holder.
Volleyball Club Vice-President Rosemary Bissett also paid tribute to the team and their unbelievable run five national titles in a row.
“To win one national title is a pretty amazing achievement. To go back-to-back is even more special. But to go back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back is incredible! There can’t be too many teams to have won five national titles in a row in any sport”, said Bissett proudly.
Capping off the remarkable season, 1st Year Master of Management student-athlete Xi Xi was named the women’s AVL Best Receiver. Uni Blues Captain Hannah Martin was awarded Best Hitter, and Sophie Payne the AVL’s Best Setter.