Zingel's Olympic volleyball dream alive

VOLLEYBALL

Kiama Downs volleyballer Aidan Zingel enhanced his prospects to compete at a second Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, now Australia are included in the 28-nation indoor volleyball World League next year.

The men's team, the Volleyroos, last played in the competition before the 2000 Sydney Games.

The women's team have been invited to compete in the equivalent, known as the Grand Prix, for the first time.

The Australian men are now ranked 14th in the world and have also qualified for the world championships in Poland in September.

The $8 million men's World League will pit the Volleyroos against Belgium, Finland and Canada in their pool in a home-and-away format at indoor venues around Australia.

Canada is ranked 11, while Belgium is 37 and Finland 30.

The winner of that pool, which commences in May, will advance to the finals tournament with the champions collecting more than $1 million in prizemoney.

Organisers have expanded the women's Grand Prix competition to include more southern hemisphere teams.

Ranked 100, Australia is in a pool with Kazakhstan (23), Croatia (24) and the Czech Republic (25).

Volleyball Australia is hoping the high-class international competition will allow the sport to grab a bigger national audience and believes basketball's NBL and WNBL have made a mistake by playing their competitions in summer.

"We're going to fill that winter void that we think has been left wide open by there being no professional, world-class Olympic indoor sports being played in Australia on a regular home-and-away basis during winter," said VA president Craig Carracher.

He said that VA had applied to host the World League finals.

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