Ballarat had a dominate period through the 1990’s with a number of State and National representatives and champions representing the Association. Below are some of the highlights of the decade. and Damon Minotti combining to win numerous tournaments.
There have been several incarnations of a Victorian Country Volleyball League coordinated by different Associations and individuals over time. In the 1990’s the competition was particularly strong and involved teams from Victoria and South Australia including Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Geelong, Shepparton, Kyneton, Mount Gambier, Renmark, Sunraysia, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Werribee. There was also a league run in Gippsland and occasionally the two competitions ran a finals series together.
The first iteration was in 1991 initiated and coordinated by Allan Hassell out of Mildura and was particularly competitive. Geelong dominated the rounds finishing on top with Bendigo second, Ballarat third and Sunraysia fourth. The top four teams contested the “Finals Round” in Bendigo with Ballarat taking on Sunraysia in a knockout elimination final. The team featured the core of what would be a powerhouse team for the next few years with stalwarts Peter Hassell, Chris Murnane, Jason Hill, Aaron Krahe, Jon Ollering, Neil Ham, Greg Tulloch and Brian Holding. Future Ballarat player, coach, Committee member and President, Damon Minotti (15 years old) would play his first season of representative volleyball for Sunraysia in the competition and get on of several on court lessons from Ballarat that year. The team then defeated Bendigo in the preliminary final to face off against Geelong in the Grand Final on the Sunday. Jason Hill, freshly returned from the National Championships representing Victoria in a start studded team featuring the likes of George Santamaria, Darren Franks, Mark Tudor, Nick Van Gempst amongst others, dominated the back half of the game to see Ballarat claim the inaugural title 3-1.