Athlete Profile – Korben Phillips

Korben started playing volleyball when he was in year 7 and participated in many events throughout high school. In 2017 he had his first opportunity to travel interstate and compete at a national level, his team finished with a Silver at the Australian Volleyball Schools Cup (AVSC). Following this, he was selected for the Junior State Team, invited to a Volleyball Australia Junior Men’s Development Camp where he was selected to represent Australia in Thailand. Korben said, “The camp was an experience on a different level and opened up my eyes to what volleyball could be for me if I continued to grind. I went on the Thailand tour with the Australian Youth Team and knew it was something I would love to pursue.”

In that pursuit, he continued to train and play for his school, Hale, and his club, Balcatta Cats, was once again selected to play for the Junior State Team, given the opportunity to join the WA Steel as a development player and started playing beach volleyball. This passion for both types of volleyball allowed him to push the boundaries in both disciplines. He played his first beach national championships in Bunbury, WA, where he came home with bronze. After this tournament, he was selected to represent Australia at the ARAFURA Games, where he played both indoor and beach representing Australia against competitors from around the world.

At the end of 2019, Korben was selected to join the 2020 Australian Volleyball Academy group where he trained full time and played both indoor and beach. He remembers “2020 was the first year of COVID lockdowns and it was difficult to do much but train at the Australian Institute of Sport. We didn’t play many tournaments apart from the Capital Volleyball League (Club Volleyball).” Despite this 2021 was still incredibly successful for Korben, he played in 5 of the Australian Beach Volleyball Tour events and was able to win Gold at the U21 Australian Beach Volleyball Championship. However, the year was not without its challenges, he was forced to sit out for part of the year due to injury (broken fingers and illness), but he didn’t allow this to affect his passion for the game, making sure to work particularly hard on rehab and in the weight room so that he wasn’t disadvantaged coming back. The year certainly wasn’t a total loss as he was able to participate in several camps and met and train with some of his Volleyroo idols.

In late 2021, Korben was scouted to join the University of Jamestown Men’s Volleyball Team through the connections of the Head Men’s Coach at the Australian Volleyball Academy, Brendan Garlick. He was able to get in contact with several American and Canadian colleges and find a program and coach that would propel Korben’s development. The move to college in another country was a huge transition that came with its own challenges but ultimately a decision that has benefited his volleyball career and his character. Korben is currently part way through the playing season, his team has an impressive 5-1 record and is working towards a good result in the 2022 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championships. He also aspires to Win Newcomer of the Year for the GPAC conference, play for the Volleyroos, and become an Olympian, so not much really!

For anyone else wishing to pursue a successful Volleyball career, Korben says, “persistence, consistency, and hard work goes a long way! As long as you have a great attitude and are hungry for development and growth you can go as far as you are willing to push yourself.’