BOUND FOR CANBERRA: Dylan Lucchesi, 17, is the latest Sunraysia volleyballer to take up an offer to train at the Volleyball Australia Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra. Photo: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

SUNRAYSIA’S penchant for developing top volleyball talent has delivered once again.

Already an Australian representative at junior level, Dylan Lucchesi, 17, wants to take his skills to the next level and will join the Volleyball Australia Centre of Excellence at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) in Canberra in the coming weeks to do so.

Dylan is set to join some of the best young volleyball talents in the country in the nation’s capital to train and play under some of the best specialist coaches in the game.

“I’m really excited to be going there,” Dylan said.

“I got an offer to make the move after a camp in December 2017, but we declined the offer so I could continue schooling and training here.

“Over the year in 2018 I saw how much the guys who were in the program were developing and when another offer came through I was ready to take it.”

Dylan was a member of an Australian Junior squad that travelled to Thailand in 2018 for the Thailand National Under 21 Championships. At the moment he is in a reserve position for the Australian Under 20 side that will compete in the Asian Games in Iran in 2020. Dylan hopes training at the Centre of Excellence will see him advance to a position in the initial squad.

A number of talented volleyballers from the region have made their home at the AIS in recent years, and Dylan hopes it can take his game to the next level.

“Zac Hermans went down the same path as me, joining the Centre of Excellence before starting Year 12. He’s been a great help in explaining how it all works, and he said it’s one of the best decisions he’s made,” Dylan said.

“I went to AIS three times in 2018 for separate camps, and I really got a sense of how quickly they (players at the Centre of Excellence) were coming along. In November we watched a team from the Centre of Excellence play in a tournament against senior teams from all over Australia, and they blew everyone away. I could see that joining the program was really the next step in my development.

“Initially I’ll be in the program until December, but I’m hoping to be in the AIS for two years, I’ll try and take a gap year once I’ve finished high school and really focus on training and setting myself up to potentially move to the USA or Canada to play college volleyball.

“The Thailand tour was a great experience, and that led me into being part of more camps and eventually this offer. Currently I’m in a reserve position for the Under 20 Asian Games side, but I’m hoping to work myself into a starting position.”

Dylan and his fellow program participants will be training six times per week at the AIS, working with specialised coaches to further develop on-court skills, strength and conditioning and bio-mechanics and human movement specifically for volleyball.

Dylan is no stranger to hard work, having trained in Mildura Sunraysia Volleyball Inc. (SVI), with the Phantoms State Volleyball League side and in Melbourne with Victorian teams most weeks.

“I think it’s going to be a great experience,” Dylan said.

“I have to say thanks to everyone at SVI for their support in my development. The coaches Chris Hermans, Andrew Zrna and Paul Freckleton have been awesome, and I have to also thank Kym Kalms and Brad Leerson for everything they’ve done for me as well.”