Sunraysia volleyballers Dylan Lucchesi, 16, and Kade Zrna, 14, are part of the Australian Youth Volleyball squad. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
SUNRAYSIA Volleyball’s penchant for producing top class junior athletes is continuing through Dylan Lucchesi, LEFT, and Kade Zrna.
The teenagers will represent Australia on a two-week tour of Thailand beginning next Thursday.
Some of the brightest youth talent across the country will travel to Asia to play in the Thailand National Under 21 Championships, as well as train at the FIVB Development Centre in Bangkok.
The Australian squad has been split into three teams, with Dylan representing Australia Gold and Kade playing for Australia White.
Dylan, 16, is a recent convert to volleyball, having only been playing the game full-time for the past two years.
“It was sort of a shock a few months ago when I found out, but I’m really excited to be part of the tour,” he said.
“It will be my first time in Australian colours and my first ever trip overseas. I guess it’s a big payoff for all the hard work that I’ve put in.
“I played volleyball at school with some mates and I felt a bit of a change from contact sports like footy was necessary. I enjoyed it and felt I wasn’t too bad at it.”
Dylan received some insight into upcoming opponents after joining a squad to play against touring teams from Japan in Canberra a few weeks ago.
“Playing Japan, we learned a lot about their playing style, which is pretty similar for most Asian countries,” he said.
“They are really quick, aggressive, fit and polished, they cover the court really well. They have probably also been involved in volleyball since they were young, while we have players like myself with only two years experience.”
Kade, 14, is rarely found without a volleyball in his hand, and his hard work on the training track has paid off, being selected as one of the youngest members of the touring party.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to be selected, but it was something I was wanting to be part of down the track,” he said.
“I’m good mates with Zac Hermans’ brothers so I’ve been talking to him a lot to get some advice about being part of the tour. He said just to relax and play your game.
“Being part of the Victorian squad in 2017 definitely helped improve my game.”
Both players attributed their selections to the continued support of SVI and coaches Paul Freckleton, Chris Hermans and Andrew Zrna.