Greg Vukets has been the captain of the Westlake Boys’ High School Premier Volleyball team for three years. He says leadership is never easy and always involves new challenges.
“I am a vocal captain and I don’t apologise for that, but to bring out the best in people you have to understand their personality. Some guys you can rip into and that’s fine, but others are more sensitive and drop their heads if you give them a spray. I am learning how to talk to people all the time.”
Westlake needed a verbal rocket heading to the National Secondary Schools Volleyball Championships in Palmerston North last week. They were only seeded 14th out of 32 teams. Vukets concedes Westlake were a touch lucky to even be there.
“The top four teams from North Harbour are eligible to compete in Division I. We only got third in Harbour which isn’t great, but I knew we could perform well at Nationals if things clicked,” Vukets insists.
Westlake would have to be at the top of their game immediately. They encountered defending champions and top seed Western Heights High School in pool play. Vukets says Westlake went into the match with a very deliberate strategy.
“Western Heights had some freak athletes, real star power, but also made a lot of mistakes because of all that flair. Our plan was to keep the ball in play as long as possible and try to force a lot of errors. We had to ride the storm when they were on a roll and take our chances when they arose,” Vukets explains.
Despite slumping to a 2-1 deficit Westlake caused an upset winning 18-25, 27-25, 13-25, 27-25, 16-14.
“It was massive to knock over a Bay of Plenty school. There is so much history and competition down there. A Bay of Plenty school usually wins Nationals so to beat Western Heights so early gave us a huge confidence boost,” Vukets says.
The win over Western Heights didn’t signal an end to tough matches. Westlake was extended to five sets against Rangitoto College and Trident High School. Rangitoto was a success (25-18, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25, 15-8) but Trident resulted in defeat (21-25, 16-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-11).
“To have so many tough matches was tiring, but a really good thing. It built our endurance and confidence.”
The quarter-final against Tauranga Boys’ College proved to be another gruelling encounter. Westlake trailed by two sets to one, but once again found the fortitude to prevail, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 15-5.
“Tauranga was a tough match. They had some great athletes. We played four five-set matches out of five which is pretty crazy really,” Vukets laughs.
In the semi-final Westlake managed a much quicker work out eliminating Otumoetai College 25-23, 25-19, 25-22.
Manurewa High School was a dangerous final opponent, Vukets provides some insight as to why.
“Manurewa was a very big team with a lot of dynamic athletes. When they got a roll on they were close to unstoppable.”
They weren’t allowed to really start against Westlake who won 25-20, 25-21, 25-23. Vukets was obviously delighted with the result, but confesses it wasn’t a great match.
“I think both teams were tired and nervous which meant it wasn’t a great spectacle. I think we handled the occasion better than they did and that was the difference.”
Vukets plays outside hitter which he describes as “doing a bit of everything.” He was named tournament MVP.
“I was really proud to get that award, but I would like to thank my coaches and teammates. The effort was huge from everybody.”
Volleyball runs in the blood for Vukets. Both his parents played and his sister Annalise is on a scholarship at McGill University in Canada. Greg has represented New Zealand travelling to America twice and Laos. He also plays beach volleyball and basketball for the Westlake First V who were runners up at Nationals in 2015.
At the conclusion of the 48th National Schools Volleyball Nationals - the top 24 Boys and Girls are selected into the Tournament Team for 2016! Congrats to those selected!
Boys Tournament Team
Sam Nielsen - Riccarton High School
Jack Gallivan - Orewa College
Henry Ap’e - Manurewa High School
Tala Potifara - Manurewa High School
Zaya Walsh - Otumoetai College
Billy Johnston - Western Heights High School
Ashton Howard - Westlake Boys High School
Charles Ching - Waimea College
Daniel Kilpatrick - Tauranga Boys College
Luke Carter - Tauranga Boys College
Adam Tyson - Otumoetai College
Greg Vukets - Westlake Boys High School (MVP)
Girls Tournament Team
Leni-Lia Moananu - St Mary’s College
Danielle Tafili - Sacred Heart College
Holly Chandler - Waimea College
Carla Butler - Riccarton High School
Phoenix Paniora - Trident High School
Ruta Urika - Mangere College
Jordan Peipi - Marlborough Girls College
Tamara Otene - Westlake Girls High School
Jess Lawrence - Tauranga Girls College
Emma Mabbott - Tauranga Girls College
Chynae Stark - Burnside High School
Alice Zeimann - Burnside High School (MVP)
Boys Top 32 Pool Standings – Day One
1.Western Heights HS A
4.Marlborough Boys' College A
1.Tauranga Boys'College A
3.Tauranga Boys' College B
4.Kelston Boys High School
2.Trident HS A
1.Otumoetai College A
2.Mt Maunganui Coll
4.NapierBoys HS A
1.Orewa College A
2.Nelson College A
4.Otago Boys' HS
1.Waimea College Gold A
4.Hillcrest HS A
1.Rangitoto Coll A
2.Rowville Secondary College
3.Western Heights HS B
3.Takapuna Grammar School
4.De La Salle College
The 48th New Zealand Secondary Schools Volleyball tournament is being playing at Arena Manawatu, Palmerston all next week. The tournament, featuring some 2000 players, plus coaching and support staff, from throughout the country, is the largest indoor national secondary schools sports event on the calendar.
In total, 75 boys and 97 girls teams (172 combined), representing 99 schools will be represented, with play running day and night for five days. The boys and girls Honours, Premier and Challenger finals are on Friday.
Rotorua’s Western Heights High School (boys) and Christchurch’s Burnside High School (girls) are the defending Division 1 champions. Western Heights defeated a visiting Australian team, Heathfield College, 3-0 (25-23 25-21 25-20) in the 2015 final, whilst Burnside HS edged Nelson’s Waimea College 3-2 (19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 20-25, 15- 12). Bay of Plenty schools Mount Maunganui College (boys) and Otumoetai College (girls) finished third in 2015. Western HeightsHS (Tyran Gillespie/Daniel Michael) and Burnside HS (Alice Zeimann/Chynae Stark) pairs also won this January‘s NZSS Beach Volleyball championships.
The top 10 seeded boys teams at the tournament are (1-10): Western Heights High School A; Tauranga Boys’ College A; Trident High School; Otumoetai College; Orewa College; Waimea College Gold; Rangitoto College A; Riccarton High School; Manurewa High School; Western Heights High School B.
The top 10 seeded girls teams at the tournament are (1-10): Marlborough Girls’ College; Burnside High School; Otumoetai College A; Westlake Girls’ High School; Tauranga Girls’ College A; Waimea College Gold; Mangere College; Mount Maunganui College A; Aorere College; Rangitoto College.
The format of the tournament for the top 32 boys and girls Honours divisions will see teams initially split into pools of four, followed by a top 16 and bottom 16 round and then quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Teams will play nine games throughout the week.
Tournament teams and boys and girls Tournament MVPs will be named at the conclusion of the tournament. Last year, Western Heights HS’s Kahurangi Robinson and Burnside HS’s Alice Zeimann were the tournament MVPs. Kahurangi has now left school and has turned his hand to AFL, whilst Alice returns to lead her school to its title defence in 2016.
Immediately following the tournament, a New Zealand Age Group trial will take place, from which Age Group squads will be invited to attend the Volleyball NZ Age Group Performance Camp in Porirua later in April and later selected to represent national teams.
The NZSS Volleyball Championships were first played in 1969, with St Kentigern College (boys) and Hamilton Girls’ High School the inaugural winners.
The schools that have won the most titles have been Tauranga Boys’ College (11) and Otumoetai College (girls, 13).
The previous five winners have been:
Western Heights High School
Burnside High School
Tauranga Boys’ College
Tauranga Boys’ College
Western Heights High School
Tauranga Girls’ College
Westlake Boys’ High School
Tauranga Girls’ College
Pools and Draws
Visit http://www.volleyballnz.org.nz/NZSSNationals-main to view all the pools and draws
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