For the second time in three years, the first time participants are also the first time champions.
St Peter’s School, Cambridge, joined 2017 winners Howick College in winning their maiden Fuji Xerox NZ Secondary Schools Netball Championships title in their first attempt in the tournament in Nelson last week.
St Peter’s went through the tournament unbeaten, beating 2016 winners Saint Kentigern College 35-31 in the final.
Team captain Kataraina Ormsby said it was an “indescribable” feeling to have won the national schools crown. “We were just happy to come here and show the rest of New Zealand what we could do,” she said. “Making history for our school....I’m speechless and just so proud of the girls.”
College Sport Media caught up with captain Kataraina for some more insight into the tournament on behalf of the team. See below.
College Sport Media: The final was a tense, close match, your team trailing early, then coming back to level early the fourth quarter then pulling away at the end. Tell us about how the final unfolded, what was said at half and three quarter time and what was a turning point or key moment at the end?
Kataraina Ormsby: We got off to one of our best starts of the week in the first quarter. This was something we had been focusing on throughout the week and that help set the platform for the rest of the game. We had a patch in the second quarter where we had a higher error rate and that let them close the gap.
During halftime break our coaches spoke to us about using our structures to ensure we were scoring from our centre pass, doing the basics well, and ensuring we did our pre-work on attack to provide good flat options for our receivers through court. We knew St Kent's hunted high balls so we aimed to take their aerial game away from them. I felt we held our composure really well when we were down a couple of goals and kept contesting the ball and putting defensive pressure throughout the court.
At three quarter time we talked about the importance that our transition from attack to defence and vice versa was quicker. If we lost possession, we had to get the ball back defensively in our third before it got down the other end and we got some really good quick intercepts or forced them into errors by doing this. The turning point in the last quarter was the defensive pressure as a unit of seven players on court and the huge support from our bench that gave us confidence to let the ball go on attack and trust each other.
CSM: What about the prior knockout games, how did they pan out for St Peter’s?
Kataraina: Once we got out of our first seeded pool, were crossed into two pools of four, making the top eight. With three games in each pool they were must win games in order to progress through to the finals.
There was no second chance. We had Howick first and having played them in the semi-finals a month earlier at UNISS (Upper North Island Secondary Schools) in extra time we knew we had to bring our A game. They are a strong, physical team and contest the ball well. We had to be clinical and limit our unforced errors against this team. Keeping the ball flat and fast for most of the time and mixing up speed with change of pace helped secure the win 41-25. The next game was against Epsom Girls that we had also played twice before. It is important to get the mind-set right going into games against teams you’ve played before. Past results mean very little and we were conscious that they were a well skilled team that had height and speed. We didn't have a great start against them and it took some time to get our connections working smoothly but as the game went on we were able to implement some of the strategies and tactics we had been working on. We won this game 49-38.
These two wins put us in the semi-final against Manakura, the top seeded team form the other pool. They had gone through unbeaten also and had had some comfortable wins leading into our game. We didn't know a lot about this team and hadn't played them before. One of the strengths of our team is that we can play a variety of styles on attack and defence and are very good at mixing up and adapting to what we do on court. We have our structures to fall back on, but we also have the ability to play what is in front of us. Manakura were very quick through their mid court so our focus was shutting down their flow and speed on the ball. Our players thrive on the tough one on one marking, making the opposition work for the ball early in the game. This type of defensive pressure worked well as we were able to force them into a higher turnover rate. Our attacks were able to let some great long ball go through court as well as mix up the timing and this worked in our favour to win the game 37-25.
CSM: Apart from the knockout games, what were some other highlights for St Peter’s on and of the court?
Kataraina: We are a team that get on really well both on and off the court. Earlier in the week we did some team activities and excursions to Mapua Wharf, fed eels and chilled out at Kaiteriteri Beach which was one of the highlights away from the courts. Pool play was a good chance to get processes right, and that contributed to our belief. Going all the way was something that we didn't really talk about, it was almost an unspoken understanding and confidence where we all knew where we wanted to be at the end of the week.
We didn't speak about winning, more about the type of exciting netball we were playing and how we wanted to make a statement about deserving to be at NZSS. We are team that has the ability to be completely chilled out and relaxed but can switch it on when we need to. I think having this balance and calmness was a real asset when games were close.
CSM: As well as being first time champions, St Peter’s became the first Waikato school since Hillcrest in 2003 to win the title – how aware of the history were you all heading into nationals?
Kataraina: We were so proud that we created history by qualifying for NZSS by getting in the top 6 at UNISS. Qualifying for NZSS was our first goal that we set very early in the season. Over the last two years we have gone from 20th, to 12th at UNISS. Finishing 2nd at UNISS this year was a real confidence booster that we were going to be very competitive at NZSS. For our school and our Waikato Bay of Plenty region it was very exciting to win, not many teams in their first year at a NZSS tournament win it the same year.
CSM: What did you learn from finishing runners-up at UNISS?
Kataraina: We were very disappointed with our final against St Kent's as we knew we were could play better. It was our first major final as a team and I think after our Howick semi-final in extra time earlier that day we probably hadn't prepared mentally as well for the final as we would have liked. It was a great experience and in hindsight it was probably an advantage for us going into NZSS. In the month after that loss we knew it would most likely be St Kent's that we came up against at NZSS and we did a lot of homework on our errors, our strengths and came up with a game plan that would put them under more pressure and get our ball on attack to our shooters with more accuracy.
CSM: What other competitions did the St Peter’s team play in this year, and how did you go?
Kataraina: We played in the Waikato Secondary School League and won that in term 2. We played in the Hamilton City Premier Open Grade and were in the top 4 for the majority of the season. We also played in the Auckland Points Tournament where we made the semi-finals.
CSM: what was the age make-up of the St Peter’s netball team? Is there a good group coming through, and what will this win do for the sport at your school in general?
Kataraina: Five Year 13's, two Year 12's and five Year 11's. We have some exciting talent coming through the Year 9 and 10 Netball Academies so the future looks good for St Peter's Netball.
CSM: Tell us about what representative teams players were in this year, and who play other sports?
Kataraina: Several of our players were selected for Hamilton City rep teams; Kataraina Ormsby, Katie Te Ao, Ella Bradley, Waiata Jennings, Sophie Waddell, Atlanta Bruce, Sade Kaipara-Morrison.
Some of our other players were rep basketballers; Charlisse Leger-Walker (Tall Ferns) Ella Bradley and Alana Paewai (NZ age group reps), Charlisse, Ella, Alana and Waiata were in the St Peter's Basketball team that won the NZSS basketball title the week before.
So we had a lot of players that were experienced in playing in high pressure situations.
CSM: Tell us about some of the support you have received?
Kataraina: We have had an amazing support network all season, St Peter's School, Ogle Construction our sponsor, Performance Plus Physio, our families and our coaches and team management: Ange Russek, Te Aroha Keenan, Jenny O'Leary and Jess Elers.
St Peter’s School 2019 NZSS squad:
Ella Bradley, Atlanta Bruce, Waiata Jennings, Sade Kaipara-Morrison, Annalies Kalma, Charlisse Leger-Walker, Jorja Metcalfe, Kataraina Ormsby (captain), Alana Paewai, Lucy Sidwell, Katie Te Ao, Sophie Waddell. Te Aroha Keenan (co-coach), Ange Russek (co-coach) Jenny O’Leary (manager), Jess Elers (manager).
St Peter’s School NZSS results:
Beat St Margaret’s College 50-24
Beat Christchurch Girls' High School 43-29
Beat St Mary’s College 41-36
Beat Howick College 41-25
Beat Epsom Girls' Grammar School 49-38
Beat Manukura 37-25 (semi-final)
Beat St Kentigern College 35-31 (final)
2019 Final Standings:
1 St. Peter's College, Cambridge
2 Saint Kentigern College
3 Westlake Girls' High School
5 Howick College
6 Avondale College
7 Epsom Girls' Grammar School
8 Christchurch Girls' High School
9 Napier Girls' High School
10 St. Margaret's College
11 St. Mary's College
12 Whanganui High School
13 St. Hilda's Collegiate School
14 Villa Maria College
15 Ashburton College
16 Samuel Marsden Collegiate School
NZSS Netball Championships – last 10 winners:
2019 St Peter's School, Cambridge
2018 Mt Albert Grammar School
2017 Howick College
2016 Saint Kentigern College
2015 Mt Albert Grammar School
2014 Mt Albert Grammar School
2013 Mt Albert Grammar School
2012 Mt Albert Grammar School
2011 Tu Toa
2010 Mt Albert Grammar School
Watch the 2019 NZSS Netball Final below:
College Sport New Zealand (CSNZ) thanks the One Foundation for their support with this and other stories in 2019 on College Sport Media.
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