WESTERN Phantoms are back in Horsham for a big weekend of volleyball.
With four of the club’s five teams hovering in or around a top-four berth, this weekend’s double-headers at Horsham Basketball Stadium take on added significance.
The premier, reserves and division two men will each play back-to-back games against Melbourne-based Strength on Saturday and Sunday.
With Strength sitting below the Phantoms in each division, the club could make it six wins from six men’s games.
Phantoms head coach David Berry said it was important for each team to win well, with percentage likely to determine their fates.
“Strength is the new club on the block, and it’s been working on the formation of their club for three years,” he said.
“They’re still learning the ropes and finding their feet in the competition, and they’re sitting on the bottom of the ladder for no reason other than that it’s a new experience for all of them.
“It could come down to percentage in the end, so we’ve got to make sure we come out and smash them.”
Two wins for the premier men would keep them in the hunt for a top four spot, and set up a huge double-header against Monash University a week later.
Matthew Berry is expected to take over as libero with regular starter Josh Gordon still overseas.
Cam Robinson will handle setting duties, while Ashby Smith has been dropped back to the reserves in an effort to make sure he is still eligible to play reserves finals should the premier men miss out.
The reserves men are in the top four after leapfrogging Heidelburg with a five-set win at the weekend, and can consolidate their position with two more victories.
The division two men are one game outside the top four, but could surpass Dandenong with a strong performance.
Phantoms’ reserves women face a big double-header against Eastside Hawks.
The team is currently sixth, but two wins would put it on level pegging with fourth-placed Heidelburg.
It will be a tough ask against the Hawks, who have lost only twice this year. Brooke Freckleton will miss the Sunday game with state training, making the task even harder.
The division two women play a single match against Eastside Hawks Blue.
The Phantoms have a respectable 5-4 record for the season, but are three games behind the fourth-placed Hawks Blue team, with only four games remaining.
A loss on Saturday would all but end the team’s hopes of playing finals.
Berry said most of the Mildura players in the division two women would be rested, giving Horsham players a chance to play in front of a home crowd.