In 1989, Australia hosted Japanese company team Fuji for an Australian wide series. As it was not an official international and in an attempt to gain media attention, the Australian Volleyball Federation brought dual Olympic Gold Medallist Craig Buck to don the green and gold. He was joined by prominent college player, and future US national team player Tom Duke. As was the case in the pre AIS days, the Australian roster changed for every match to control costs and working around the availability of players. The media ploy worked, with at least two matches being shown on TV. They are linked below.
As was common at the time, Australia was competitive for some periods but were not really at the same level as any Japanese team, even a club team. The match in Melbourne, was however an exception as Australia won 3-2. Appearing for Australia in the two linked matches alongside the American imports were Edi Vukosa, Raoul Tuul, Rowan Turner, Michael Reu, Matt Perry, Bruce Bourner, Andres Lomp, Kieran Cranley, Quintin Smith, and Mark Frisby-Smith.
One anecdote shared by players in the team was regarding Craig Buck’s nervous flying. The tour visited all parts of Australia, from Townsville to Perth. Unfortunately the tour coincided with an airline strike, which affected the team’s travel from Brisbane to Townsville. Somehow the federation was able to access an airforce Hercules troop transport plane for the teams. Buck (and/or his wife) absolutely refused to get on it and after an argument with an airforce officer figured that it wouldn’t be that far to drive, so rented a car. 18 hours later…
Mark Tucek , who played in the Perth match remembers playing alongside Buck, “During the game I was blocking next to Craig and got wiped by a Japanese outside hitter (because he didn’t want to hit cross-court obviously!) and Craig screamed at me “Don’t let him do that to you!!!” ….best memory ever”.
If anyone can fill in rosters or scores, this is what the official VA records of the tour have.
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