Sil­ver medal for Baker

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Sport - BY DAVID BERRY

Afour-set loss in a gold medal match has fu­elled a de­sire to con­tinue im­prov­ing for Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham mem­ber Cleo Baker.

Baker won a sil­ver medal at the Aus­tralian Ju­nior Vol­ley­ball Cham­pi­onships in Can­berra last week, with her Vic­to­rian White team los­ing to New South Wales in the fi­nal.

The Mur­toa Col­lege stu­dent was pleased with her con­tri­bu­tion to the team, even though she said there was plenty of room for im­prove­ment.

“I was happy with how I played, but in the fi­nal nerves played a big part in our team, as we were in­con­sis­tent on serve and our at­tack wasn’t up to scratch,” she said.

“We dished up be­tween nine and 11 ser­vice er­rors a set, and when you lose by a few points each time those er­rors add up.”

Baker was men­tored by Aus­tralian Vol­ley­roos cap­tain Kelly Lean, who served as the team’s as­sis­tant coach, through­out the cam­paign.

She said she learned plenty from her coaches and team­mates.

“Be­ing the ul­ti­mate team game, it only takes one player to be slightly off or not switched on and it can re­ally make it tough,” she said.

Mur­toa Col­lege vol­ley­ball coach Shaun Bray also ex­pe­ri­enced the highs and lows of na­tion­als in his first time as a coach at the cham­pi­onships.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing se­cond on the table, Bray’s Vic­to­ria Gold team had two chances for a medal.

A loss in the gold medal qual­i­fier con­signed the team to the bronze medal match, which it was un­able to win against an im­prov­ing Queens­land team.

“Beat­ing even­tual gold medal­ists New South Wales in our first game was a mas­sive high for me as well as a great re­lief,” he said.

“The men­tal prepa­ra­tion and psy­chol­ogy be­hind play­ing at this level is more im­por­tant than the skills and game play.

“One minute you have a team that is full of con­fi­dence af­ter a big win, but that can quickly dis­ap­pear fol­low­ing a loss.”

Other Vol­ley­ball Hor­sham mem­bers at the cham­pi­onships were Tamikah Dock­rill and Lae­lah Robert­son, who played with a Vic­to­ria White un­der-19 team that fin­ished eighth, and John Kearns’ Vic­to­ria Gold un­der-17 team, sev­enth.

A ma­jor an­nounce­ment at the end of the tour­na­ment con­firmed the cham­pi­onships will be played in Bendigo for the next three years.

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