The Down Side
Words: Josh Robenstone
Images: Josh Robenstone
Volleyball is a game fought above the net where the spike is powerful and pronounced and poise and timing is key in driving the opposition onto the back foot.
The Volleyroos, Australia’s mens Volleyball team, like many other Australian sports teams, are named after the bouncing Kangaroo, a national icon and for this sport, with so much of it spent in the air and bounding all over the court, it makes sense.
But what goes up must come down and it was the down side of things that spiked my interest while spending a morning with the team training for their Volleyball Nations League tournament in Melbourne last weekend. A lead up event for the World Championships happening in Italy and Bulgaria (famous for its roses) in September this year.
Time on the floor spent stretching pre game or rolling out of landings from point saving dives, surprisingly for a game that so much of is spent in the air, the down side, so to speak, in its own right is complex and graceful. Between the lines of the court, the colours of the uniform plays off against its tonal zones. Fluidity against structure. Human vs. Synthetic.
The floor itself is cushioned like a boxing ring or a matt on a gymnasium floor. Its texture is comforting and colours enticing. It encourages impact and welcomes it at every intersection of it’s dividing lines. Where basketball discourages the fall, Volleyball embraces it.
Yet, where Basketball catches the nations attention highlighted by Australian export, Ben Simmons recently winning the NBA’S Rookie of the Year award and making all the news, no less athletic, Volleyball floats quietly across the shadows. Like a mob of Roo’s silhouetted against the orange sunset of Australian sport one might say.
Ranked equal 16th in the world and coming up against two of the top three teams last weekend in Brazil and Poland, their chances in this tournament were never great and although they put in strong performances, the Volleyroos fell short in both encounters.
Onwards and upwards, it’s now onto the World Championship’s for the bouncing roos and although the results may still go widely unnoticed, with more training and positive vibes that resonate through this team, better things may happen this September in the lands of Pizza and Roses.