Young Echidnas show plenty of promise in first AVL year
At their first year in the AVL, the Tasmanian Echidnas are considered by many the league’s underdogs, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t make the other teams fight hard for their points.
A Tasmania-based volleyball franchise built with the aim of bringing together the best players from around the State and building a pathway for Tasmanian young talents, the Echidnas had already made an appearance at the highest level of domestic indoor competition in 2018, when they participated in the Australian Volleyball Championship.
Captains Triin Thorpe and Josh Thorpe are amongst the players who put the Echidnas on the map back then. Four years later, they are keen to bring on another challenge as the team introduces plenty of fresh faces to the AVL community after the COVID-imposed two year break.
Captains aside, the women’s team will also rely on the experience of Brazilian-born pass/hitter Natalia Santos, while setter Sami Ashcroft and opposite Lucy Allwright will be amongst the talents looking to make their mark in the league.
In the men’s side, young opposite/setter Bailey Nelson already had a chance to shine in the Echidnas 2022 debut against the Adelaide Storm in Round 1, showing he’s going to be more than just a supporting cast around veteran Jan Jensen, outside hitter Brad Bailey and long-time leader Josh Thorpe.
Lacking experience at the AVL level, the young Tasmanian franchise won’t probably set too many goals for themselves this year, other than fighting hard for every set, no matter what team they come up against. Their seasonal debut wasn’t the easiest against two Storm teams who have certainly impressed with multiple wins over the first two rounds across both the men and womens’ leagues.
Yet, the fans at Kingborough Sports Centre had many reasons to cheer and applaud their home players. The Tasmanian squads demonstrated they’re already competitive in the AVL, proudly returning national-level competition to a resilient and supporting local volleyball community.
Results might not come right away, but the Echidnas are on the right track to build towards long-term participation in the AVL, continuing to develop a volleyball culture in Tasmania and giving junior talent the opportunity to gain valuable experience at a high competitive level.