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Spotlight on Gabby Lougheed

Updated: Aug 10, 2021

Hi Gabby and thank you for being part of our Spotlight on series.

You have been playing volleyball now for a few years; I was privileged to see some of your very early games when you began playing on Tuesday nights with the team Omegas at the Arc in Warrnambool.

What has changed the most about you since then?

I’ve grown a lot more confident through playing at higher levels and gaining experience in multiple positions. I started playing as a middle blocker in my first year of being in a state team in 2016. I was able to represent Victoria at the Australian Junior Volleyball Championships and this was one of the first times I got to experience a high level of volleyball. The next year I changed to playing as a pass hitter and was fortunate enough to play in the Australian championships again in 2017 and 2018. Through my years of playing in the state team I grew better at communicating on the court. This helped me gain a place on an Australian development tour to Thailand.

Can you explain to our readers in a basic way, what happens in a game of volleyball and how the game works?

In indoor volleyball 2 teams of 6 players compete on opposite sides of a net and attempt to win points by landing the volleyball on the oppositions court. Players rotate through positions, serving after winning a point. The first team to win 25 points wins a set and most games are played best of 5 sets with the 5th set being only to 15 points. Rallies usually work by the ball being received from a serve or attack and being passed to a setter who sets to an attacker. The attacker aims to hit past blockers and get the ball to hit the ground before defenders can pass it.

What is your favourite position in the team?

My favourite position is pass hitter as you get to contribute to the game by both defense and offense. Pass hitters spend time in both the back court and front court meaning players get to pass as well as try to win points by hitting kills. I also like playing opposite as you get to hit from the right side of the court making it easier to hit sharp cross court balls.

You have competed at our local seaside tournament and also now at state, national and international level, do you have a favourite competition, or an event you are most proud of?

Definitely the local Seaside tournament or Country Championships. Seaside because I get to play against friends from across the state in my hometown. Country Champs because the games are played best of 5 sets whereas most tournaments are time limited. The games are a lot more intense and can go for a while. Last year Warrnambool Pirates won the women’s division 2 so hopefully this year we can back it up with another win.

You have just returned from a Volleyball tour in Thailand, can you tell us about this experience?

I was in Thailand for two weeks with the Australian junior development program. The first five days were a training camp at the Bangkok FIVB development centre and the other days were spent at the Thailand U21 volleyball championships. We played 4 games of the tournament and won the 1st game in 3 sets. Unfortunately we lost the next 3 games and missed out on finals. This meant that for the last few days of the trip we got to play practice matches against the other Australian team and some really skilled Thai school programs.

Who have you learnt the most from and why?

I’ve learnt so much from coaches who are always helping me to improve. Without all the coaches I’ve had in the past I would be nowhere near where I am today. I’ve also learnt a lot from team mates. At all levels I’ve found it helpful to watch other players techniques and see what sort of movements they use. Last year I attended a Volleyball Australia Junior Development camp and just getting to watch some of the best junior volleyball players in Australia was really beneficial to me.

What is the best thing about playing a team sport like volleyball?

It’s always really supportive. I love the celebrations after winning really close points. Especially when the crowd gets really involved. In my team’s U17 girls bronze medal match at nationals last year nearly the whole Victorian state team was there cheering us on and it was a great environment to play in.

What is your ultimate goal in your chosen sport?

I’d love to participate in another overseas development tour. America is a country I’d love to visit as volleyball is so much bigger there than in Australia. There’s also some really good opportunities to play in US college programs that I’m interested in finding out more about.

How would people locally get involved in volleyball?

Get in contact with the Warrnambool Volleyball association. There’s a great local competition on Tuesday nights at the Arc Stadium that people of all different skill levels play in. There’s 2 divisions, div 2 starts 6:30 and div 1 starts at 8. There’s also squads that train and go to tournaments across Victoria.

What advice would you give to someone just wanting to have a go?

Just keep trying. Volleyball is a hard sport to be good at immediately. It takes a fair bit of practice to just get control of the ball and at first it can be a bit frustrating but if you keep at it you’ll improve with time.

How much training per week do you do, and is it local or do you travel?

I train on court once a week in Warrnambool and attend SWAS strength and conditioning sessions. I get to play 2 games on a Tuesday night in the local comp I mentioned previously.. I also play for Western Phantoms in the Volleyball Victoria state league. I usually have to travel to Melbourne or Bendigo each weekend to play a couple of games.

We see beach volleyball televised at the Olympics, Have you ever played beach volleyball, or only on a court?

I’ve never played beach volleyball competitively but it’s something I’d like to do. The rules do vary a lot from indoor so it would take a fair bit of getting used to.

Did you ever play other sports, or has volleyball always been a passion?

Throughout primary school I did a range of sports but towards the end I discovered volleyball and I’ve loved it ever since.

How has SWAS supported you in achieving your best in your volleyball?

SWAS has provided me with really valuable information on nutrition, recovery, sports psychology and self awareness. SWAS has been really encouraging me to keep improving both on and off court. The strength and conditioning sessions are great for developing my physical fitness. Especially in a sport like volleyball it’s important at high levels to be able to jump higher and be quicker in movements.

I’d there anyone in particular who you would like to mention or thank?

I’d like to thank all my friends and family for supporting me especially on my trip to Thailand. I’m especially grateful for all the driving my parents have done over the past few years. I’d like to thank all the coaches I have had over the last few years, the Warrnambool Volleyball Association, Warrnambool City Council, Dan Tehan, South West Sport and Helloworld Travel Warrnambool who have also recently supported my trip to Thailand.

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