For Queen and country

LATROBE Valley will be out to divide and conquer this Queen’s Birthday long weekend when the Victorian Country Volleyball Championships come to town.

The host region has representative teams in all four divisions across men’s and women’s competitions.

Some 26 teams are coming to try and spoil the party with squads travelling from as far afield as Horsham, Warrnambool, Geelong, and Riddell’s Creek.

The Latrobe Valley men’s division one team finished third at last year’s championship and is out for gold on home courts.

Playing coach Aaron Magnuson has been happy with the team’s preparation and expects a bold showing in a bid to topple title holder Bendigo.

Stalwarts Magnuson, Jacob Gruis, Ash Vogt and Andrew Burgess will be relied upon along with the youthful exuberance of Lachlan Morland and Brandon Carpenedo.

The women’s division one team is looking to shake the “bridesmaid” tag after several years of runner up finishes.

The experience gained from playing in the Victorian Volleyball League Premiers Division has been the perfect lead-in to this year’s tournament.

Lacking the depth of previous years, Latrobe Valley will turn to experienced pair Steph Paull and Phoebe Trembath to set the tone.

Setters Ainsley White and Bronte Scott performed above expectations at the 2015 event and will need to stand tall again.

If Australian junior beach representative Rebecca Ingram can regain some of her indoor form, and Kate Willshire rises to the occasion at her first senior Country Championships, the women will challenge again.

Division two features Latrobe Valley representative teams and two local teams representing the Morwell and Moe leagues.

The Morwell women’s team in division two has a wealth of experience and will offer fierce competition providing they don’t run out of steam.

Nicole Monks, Jade Gruis, Georgia Everett and Callie Cook are all wily players who know how to get the job done.

Latrobe Valley will rely on Jess Lloyd, Megan Prentice, Crystal Bertoli and Melissa Knowles to win the big points and will look to nurture the younger brigade of Sam Rossiter, Jesse Lawton and Hayley Knowles throughout the long weekend.

The LV men’s division two team also comprises youth and experience with two father and son combinations selected.

Evergreen setter Clinton Rodda and playing coach Greg Wiggins are joined by next generation players Linus Rodda, Joey Rodda and Riley Wiggins.

Patrick Quinn needs to continue his recent run of form while Blake Hunter and Aaron Wood must quickly adapt to the fast pace at this level.

Moe community competition club team “Topgun” is also testing itself by competing in division two.

With a couple of additional players to their normal playing roster they are expected to be a competitive outfit barring any injuries to key players Matt Lawton, Andrew Flanigan and Paul Watson.

The preliminary matches will begin 8am Saturday and will be played at the Moe/Newborough Leisure Centre and Lowanna College on Saturday and Sunday.

Gold medal matches in all four divisions will be played at the Moe/Newborough Leisure Centre on Monday at 1.30pm.