Hor­sham breaks through

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DAVID BERRY

Eight months of plan­ning came off per­fectly for Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham’s men’s divi­sion one team, when it won its first ever gold medal at the 50th anniversar­y Vic­to­rian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships.

An emo­tion charged vic­tory at the Hor­sham Tour­na­ment in Novem­ber, where the ma­jor­ity of the team came to­gether, paved the way for a se­ri­ous shot at the cov­eted men’s divi­sion one coun­try ti­tle at the im­pres­sive new Bendigo Sta­dium.

Pit­ted against La­trobe Val­ley, Bendigo, Sun­raysia and Bal­larat, the team fin­ished in sec­ond spot on the ladder af­ter the round robin phase of the tour­na­ment, with vic­to­ries over La­trobe, Sun­raysia and Bal­larat and a five set loss to Bendigo.

In the gold medal qual­i­fier against La­trobe Val­ley, the team recorded a four set vic­tory to set up a show­down with Bendigo, which had gone through the tour­na­ment un­de­feated.

The tone was set in the warm up of the fi­nal with both teams trad­ing pleas­antries un­der the net with each other, and it was Hor­sham that fed off that adren­a­line bet­ter, es­tab­lish­ing an early lead that Bendigo could not bridge. The first set went to Hor­sham 25-17.

In the sec­ond set both teams traded

big spikes and mas­sive blocks, but it was the Hor­sham boys who were first to 20 and closed the set out, win­ning 25-21.

The third set fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern, with Hor­sham hold­ing a two-point lead at 16-14, which then opened up to 21-16 and 24-17.

Fi­nally, with a Cam Robinson block, that much sought-af­ter gold medal be­came a re­al­ity.

Cap­tain Matthew Berry was the ‘All Star Seven’ best set­ter while Cam Robinson was also se­lected in an honorary squad.

In the women’s divi­sion one, Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham recorded an emo­tional five-set win over South Gipp­s­land in a bronze medal match.

Bat­tling injury to key play­ers, the girls man­aged to re­struc­ture their line-up to max­i­mum ef­fect, with all eight play­ers con­tribut­ing to the re­sult.

In­vited Sun­raysia player Brooke Freck­le­ton was named an ‘All Star’.

In men’s divi­sion two, Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham’s team went through the pool phase un­de­feated, record­ing wins over Bel­lar­ine, Maf­fra, Rid­dell’s Creek and La­trobe Val­ley. In its cham­pi­onship pool matches the team was brave in close de­feats to Bairns­dale and Bendigo, even­tu­ally miss­ing out on get­ting into the gold medal match by 0.4 per­cent.

In the bronze medal match the team put up a huge fight against Bendigo but couldn’t get the points it needed at the right time and went down 27-29, 22-25, 19-25.

Nathan Berry was an ‘All Star Seven’ se­lec­tion for men’s divi­sion two.

Next year the cham­pi­onships will be at Ko­rum­burra.

HIS­TORY MAK­ERS: Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham cap­tured a divi­sion one men’s gold medal for the first time ever at a Vic­to­rian Coun­try Cham­pi­onships in Bendigo at the weekend. The ti­tle-win­ning team is, from left, coach Josh Cowan, John Dal Santo, Jack Han­nan, Matthew Berry, Cameron Robinson, Chris Rad­ford, Nick Adam­son, Brady King, Harry Stemp and Tim Lad­low.

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