Phantoms play in Ballarat

Volleyball Ballarat successfully hosted their first State League round since the early 1980s on Saturday 29th April at the Arch Sports Complex with the Western Phantoms going head to head with the Yarra Rangers across 5 divisions and 8 matches in both Men’s and Women’s competition. A number of Volleyball Ballarat players joined team mates from Bendigo, Horsham, Mildura and Warrnambool to represent the Western Phantoms in some extremely close matches, providing a welcome return of high level and high quality volleyball back to the City of Ballarat.

 In the Premier Men’s division, coached by Volleyball Ballarat President Damon Minotti, local  stars Ben Hassell, Cameron Robinson and Matthew Hallowell played a key role in both matches against a strong Rangers side that finished runner-up in the 2015 Victorian Volleyball League. In the end the matches were split 1-1 with Yarra winning an extremely close fist match 3 sets – 2 sets, 16-14 in the 5th set while Western Phantoms fought back strongly in the second game to win 3 sets – 0 in convincing fashion, and in the process kept their 2016 finals aspirations alive.

 In the Reserves Men, Ben Hassell continued his busy day taking on the coaching duties, while Henry Murnane led the way on the court for the previously undefeated Western Phantoms but couldn’t quite get his team across the line. Despite dominating early parts of both matches, a limited bench eventually took its toll  with Yarra holding out to win both extremely close 5 set marathons.

 A similar fate befell the Division 2 men and despite the best efforts of Nathan Murphy and the return of Volleyball Ballarat Life Member and “living legend’ Peter Hassell from retirement to help mentor an extremely young and inexperienced side, they too lost a close 5 set contest.

 Georgia Hassell (the third family member to take the court for the day) experienced more success with former club mate Hollie Radomski as they led their Western Phantoms Reserves Women’s team to 2 comfortable victories over the Rangers, winning the first game 3 sets – 1 and the second 3-0.

 The day started with a convincing 3-0 victory to the Yarra Rangers in the Division 2 Women as a very talented but young and inexperienced Western Phantoms team were over powered and overcome in their home debut, despite a strong performance from German exchange student Janne Bree, currently studying in Ballarat.

 Overall it was a successful return of top flight volleyball to Ballarat and a crowd of over 100 was entertained throughout the day. The Western Phantoms are in action again next weekend at the State Volleyball Centre in Dandenong before returning to the Arch for their next home round on Saturday 29th May against Heidleberg.