Silver medal for Baker
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.