The Australian Volleyball League (AVL) finals took place last weekend, with both the WA Hornets and Pearls making the gold medal match.
Both teams were up against strong competition, with the Pearls facing record-breakers Melbourne Uni Blues, and the Hornets up against the strong Queensland Pirates.
The WA Hornets are coached by UWA coach Matt Hender, and also include Matt Pallot, Ryan Smith, Lewis McDonald, Jack Nichol, Declan Walsh, and Jason Laverdure from the UWA Volleyball Club.
Hender took charge of the Hornets earlier this year, and quickly made his mark as the youngest coach in the competition’s history.
With a playing career spanning over a decade, including professional stints in Sweden, Finland and Switzerland, he came to the role a seasoned player and coach ready to take the team to the top.
The WA Hornets finished last place in the 2016 season, and before this year had never played for gold. This year, the young team won an incredible 10 games out of 12, and were able to start preparing for the finals early after qualifying before the end of the regular season.
Although they lost to the Pirates in the final, there are plenty of positives to take away for the silver medallists.
The Pirates are an experienced team who have won four of the last five finals. In comparison, the Hornets are a young team who have only been playing together for the past six months.
Matt Hender sees plenty of potential in the team’s progress. “We’re a young team, with an average age of about 23, so I think time is on our side.”
The silver will add to Hender and his UWA players’ trophy cabinet, after securing gold and silver in the past two seasons of the WA Volleyball League (WAVL)
The WAVL will restart in March 2018, with the players currently maintaining fitness with beach volleyball and gym sessions. The Hornets will begin preseason training for the AVL in April, with the possibility of some international tours on the cards.
Graduate Officer, UWA Sport Marketing, Communicaton and Events