Last weekend, the WA Steel Men and Women competed in Round 3 of the Australian Volleyball League, on the hunt again for their first wins of the season. After another tough weekend away they have not yet achieved this goal, but the results don’t tell the full story.
This year, the average age of the women’s team is 20 years old, with the men’s slightly higher at 25 years old. Among the competing group are seven U19 athletes, many of which hold critical roles in the AVL teams.
U19 boys Korben Phillips and Joshua Howat have stepped up to the massive challenge of performing in key hitting roles against some of the best in Australia, especially during the away rounds when the men are unable to travel with their full strength team. 19-year-old Ryan Slater has also filled the libero position, an unfamiliar role for the first year Steel athlete who normally plays as a setter.
For the women it varies between all five positions on the court. Caitlin Whincup is the youngest of the bunch, but you certainly wouldn’t know it watching her move on the court. At just 14, she has stepped into an occasional passer-hitter role and has proven that age has no limits. Within the U19 girls is Sarah Burton (Passer-Hitter/Opposite), Tessa Browne (Middle Blocker), Rachel Tausem (Defensive Specialist/Libero) and Jasmine Serra (Setter).
The most crucial role that needed to be filled for the women this year was the setter position. 2017’s silver medal team and 2018’s fourth place team were both stacked with three very experienced setters. This year all three could not participate in the league, so someone needed to step up to the challenge.
Jasmine Serra, the new starting setter for the 2019 Steel women, has shown incredible improvement and leadership throughout the past few weekends. With big shoes to fill and little setting experience, she runs the team with no fear and shows up each week with optimism, leading by example on and off the court.
After winning the U19 Gold Medal in the 2019 Australian Junior Beach Volleyball Championships in April, she proved that she knows how to win in her age group. Moving up to the AVL level has pushed her to work harder and perform under pressure, which she has certainly proven as well.
When reflecting on Round 3, Jasmine said, “I think this weekend was one of the best games we’ve played as a team. Although we didn’t get the win, our performance definitely showed how much we have improved since the season began and the potential we have for the future.”
Women’s Captain and Volleyroo Jen Sadler expressed her confidence in Jasmine and how all of the young girls are rising to the challenge. “Seeing how well these girls are performing outside of their comfort zone has given me hope for the future of the WA Steel. While we may not get the results we hoped for this season, there is a lot to be excited about for the years to come.”
The Steel are back home this weekend at Warwick Stadium where they will take on the Queensland Pirates, reigning champions and first place on the men’s ladder, and third place on the women’s ladder.
“I’m excited for this weekend. I think being back with our home crowd will help give us an extra boost and hopefully we can walk away with our first win,” said Jasmine.
Game times for this weekend are listed below.
- Saturday 9th at 5:00pm – WA Steel Women vs Queensland Pirates
- Saturday 9th at 7:00pm – WA Steel Men vs Queensland Pirates
- Sunday 10th at 10:00am – WA Steel Women vs Queensland Pirates
- Sunday 10th at 12:00pm – WA Steel Men vs Queensland Pirates
To stay up to date on the Volleyball WA Steel and their 2019 AVL campaign, follow them on Instagram and Facebook (@vwasteel) and head to avl.org.au.
Photo Credit: Joel 20-10 Photography