The 2018 AVL Championship Series has concluded in Melbourne with WA once again heading home with a medal. Making their national debut, the WA Steel fought valiantly over three days of competition to finish with a bronze medal for the men and fourth place for the women.
The men’s competition saw an increase of teams taking 2017’s pool of nine up to 12 teams in 2018. The WA Steel men’s team went into the competition ranked second and played the Melbourne Uni Blues and Tasmania Echidnas in the pool stage. WA’s men made light work of both the pool stage and quarter finals where they defeated the Center of Excellence 3-1 to progress to the semi-final.
The Steel’s semi-final was a rematch of the 2017 game with WA once again up against the Canberra Heat. The Heat won the first set 25-18 while the Steel bounced back in the second to take it out 25-23. From there it was a closely contested match with neither team giving in. While the Steel fought hard to stay in the game it wasn’t enough and the Heat secured their win in four sets.
Heading into the bronze medal match, the WA Steel boys looked determined to leave Melbourne with a medal. Having dropped only five sets over the three days, the WA Steel went out firing and produced some spectacular strings of play to win the bronze medal in three sets.
In the women’s competition the WA Steel looked sharp and breezed through the pool round in dominant fashion. The women did not drop a single set in the pool round while playing the Center of Excellence, Queensland Buccaneers and VVA Vultures.
However the semi-finals proved to be a different beast with the Steel having to play last year’s Grand Final opponent, the Melbourne Uni Blues. The Uni Blues came into the competition with five consecutive AVL Championships and proved to be the Steels first major competition of the series. A close first two sets saw the scoreboard even with both teams claiming a set. However the Uni Blues demonstrated why they are five time champions and claimed victory in four sets.
Like the men, the girls were left to fight it out for the bronze medal. Facing the Canberra Heat, the Steel looked ready to extinguish the Pool A winners and got an early lead taking the first set 27-25. The Heat responded quickly by taking out the next two sets, 25-18 and 25-20. Down a set the Steel lifted and claimed the fourth 25-22, forcing the game to a fifth set. Both teams fought hard producing some stellar rallies in the nail biting final set, however the Heat were too good and claimed the fifth set 25-22, taking home the bronze.
Volleyball WA would like to congratulate the players, coaches and fans on their 2018 results and look forward to cheering on the WA Steel in 2019.
A full list of results from the 2018 AVL Championship Series can be found here.